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Author Topic: Oracle Stance?  (Read 3196 times)
TonyLB
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« on: May 20, 2005, 07:14:10 AM »

Quote from: Ron Edwards
I think it's crucial to understand there are two variables: in-character vs. out-of-character knowledge/perspective as starting constraint (yes or no); character motions/dialogue vs. objects/events external to the character. These are independent variables, and when you juxtapose them - which you have to do in order to "play a character" - then you have three Stances.

....

"Yes" for in-character knowledge/perspective as starting constraint + objects/events external to (toward) the character
= not possible most of the time (although it does bring up the interesting issue of how to utilize time travel, and pre/post cognition in fiction - another thread, please)

Done.  Another thread.

So, say you had a character who gave prophecies or had visions which then came true.  Say, further, that she only saw visions that connected with her perspective on the universe in some important way:  Say, for instance, that she could only see people's pain when it was like to her own pain.

At that point you've got a stance where the player is thinking "What sort of thing about the external universe would be justified by my guy's personality?"  Is that fun, interesting, or just an oddity?
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #1 on: May 20, 2005, 07:33:45 AM »

Hi Tony,

My call is that in fiction, such things are "converted" mentally into character action anyway - in which case they become Actor or Author Stance.

I see it as a two-step process, in that the real person is saying, "X happens or will happen externally to my character [or the world or whatever]," and then converting it to "but we know about X and accept it into play via the action of my character."

The presence of that second step, which as far as I can tell is universal for fiction of all kinds (lit, film, role-playing, etc) is what snaps the real person back to Author or Actor Stance ... even though, yes, the starting point would seem otherwise. And if that starting point were to be a means of play in and of itself (possible? I don't know), then Oracle Stance seems like a perfect term for it.

Best,
Ron
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TonyLB
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« Reply #2 on: May 20, 2005, 07:39:41 AM »

So, like, Cordelia in Angel (with the freaky visions that send people on missions) isn't all that different from Charlie, of other Angels fame (with the freaky missions to send people on).  Basically, they both say "This, this, this, GO!"  And it doesn't really matter whether the mission originates with them, because they're the conduit by which it makes its way into the fiction.

Yeah, I can see what you mean about that translation.  Interesting.

EDIT:  So what you'd really need is a landscape which is responsive to the in-character needs of the character, in the classic mythic sense.  A dark knight appears because young Lancelot is becoming arrogant about his abilities.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #3 on: May 20, 2005, 07:49:45 AM »

Whoa.

Do we engage in Oracle Stance toward others' characters when presenting plot hooks or Bangs (two very different things, otherwise)? And bear in mind that people do this with/to one another all the time, regardless of official "GM" status.

Or in practice, does that merely convert to Director Stance just as the precog-thing converts to Author or Actor?

I'm thinking it does so convert. But for a moment there, I came over all goosebumpy.

Best,
Ron
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TonyLB
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« Reply #4 on: May 20, 2005, 08:13:28 AM »

Well, you're talking about two things at completely different levels of the Big Model, aren't you?

Oracle Stance is about credibility relative to the character.  So "Lancelot is feeling arrogant, therefore a Black Knight appears to challenge and trounce him... that's just how this world works."

Presenting plot hooks or (particularly) Bangs is relative to the players and their desires and input.  So "Joe wants to explore the question of Lancelot's arrogance, which gives me motivation to present someone who could challenge and trounce him."

If I'm gaming in a modern-day, mythos-free reality, I would use Director Stance to have gang-banger Blackie track down my arrogant street-kid Lance and give him a whupping... because there's no in-game connection between Lance's arrogance and Blackie's appearance.  I've got the player-relative motivation, but no character-relative justification (not that I need one).

But if I'm playing in Arthurian mythos then I do the same thing from Oracle stance.  Yes, my motivation (relative to the player) for doing it is exactly the same, but also the game-world explicitly supports this as a credible consequence of Lance's mental state.

By comparison, in Arthuriana, having a wise old wizard come and offer him an amulet that protects him from the blows of the Black Knight who is about to attack him... that would have to be Director Stance.  You just can't justify that action of the external world based on Lancelot's mental state.  Not that you need to, if you have a player-relative Bang that's motivating you.

Hrm... that was a lot of babbling for what seemed like a very simple point in my head.
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John Burdick
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« Reply #5 on: May 20, 2005, 08:51:17 AM »

Tony,

The anime series Escaflowne involves a world where wishes shape reality. The main character, Hitomi, finds tragedy and destruction everywhere she goes. It is revealed that part of the tragedy was created by her fears.

Hitomi does fortune telling with tarot cards. Once she realizes that she creates the future, she's afraid to use the cards and maybe create more tragedy. There's a question on how much influence she has on changing the past. There are elements that don't enter the show until she "reveals" them. At that point they always were.

In a setting like that, the world shaping itself to fit a character's internal state is like a straight-forward system for magic. The difference between a more typical magic system would be that unconscious magic working is as potent as intentional ones. I'd start by looking at something like the shadow idea from Wraith to use it in a game.

John
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #6 on: May 20, 2005, 10:39:05 AM »

Oh yeah! I forgot to mention wishes. Wishes totally fit this issue too.

Tony, I don't think we need to hop up levels in model, and am not quite sure where that came from. As long as we remember that events/issues at any level can have effects ripple up/out as well as down/in, we're good.

Best,
Ron
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TonyLB
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« Reply #7 on: May 20, 2005, 11:17:38 AM »

Okay then I've misunderstood what you were saying.  Let me back up and take it in smaller increments.

I don't see that the ephemera of stance is linked to plot-hooks or Bangs at all.  Yes, I can present bangs in Oracle stance... or Director stance.  I can also present a Bang in Actor or Author stance ("And so she turns to you and says 'I wish you'd kiss me now.'  What do you do?")  The ephemera of Stance are tools, any one of which can be applied to the goal of presenting a Bang, with varied results.

You seem to see a linkage.  Can you elaborate?
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #8 on: May 20, 2005, 02:22:32 PM »

Oh. Good point, Tony.

I was thinking in terms of "the day of the battle dawns," or even better, "now that you've killed the heir to the throne, the civil war begins."

That sort of thing. But you're right, the Stance or "Stance" we're talking about would only be one way/bit to do that.

And again, I think I managed to convince myself that such an approach would "snap" to Director Stance in many cases anyway.

Best,
Ron
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TonyLB
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« Reply #9 on: May 20, 2005, 03:26:40 PM »

I'm pretty sure I see a distinction between:
    [*]"Now that you've killed the heir to the throne, the civil war begins," (non-Oracular Director) and,
    [*]"Your heart is filled with hate.  The king must be at peace.  Therefore a civil war breaks out, because you cannot (yet) be a true king." (Oracle)[/list:u]I don't know whether it's an essential difference, but I think that if you're looking for what it would be like to have wholly External agency combined with Internal constraint, this is it.  I use it in a lot of cases where non-Oracular Director stance simply wouldn't do:  "The allies you thought had deserted you suddenly appear on the horizon, because you've resolved within yourself that you are willing to die to protect the land," just to pick a single example.

    So, I don't know that it "snaps" to Director.  I think they're perceptibly different things.  I just don't know whether the difference is important enough to hang terminology on.
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    neelk
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    « Reply #10 on: May 21, 2005, 10:35:57 AM »

    Hi Tony, I'm not 100% sure this is on target with your point, but I think that players do this (where this is Ron's '"Yes" for in-character knowledge/perspective as starting constraint + objects/events external to (toward) the character') all the time, and most often in chargen. Here's a typical dialogue:

    Player: "Okay, these dudes are chasing my PC wherever he goes. No matter how hard he tries to hide, these guys with pasty white skin and pointy teeth always find him, and they make his life hell."

    Me, as GM: "Who are they, and do they try to kill you, or what?"

    Player: "I don't know who they are, or where they come from, or anything like that, but the funny thing is that they never personally hurt him, physically. Oh, there's like kung-fu when he tries to stop them from burning down his house or trashing his workplace, but they always leave him alive, and whenever they beat him they always say 'Belphegor wills it!' in this whispery voice."

    See what the player is doing? He's telling me about things in the setting that impinge upon his character, but he's given me the responsibility to contextualize it for him, by avoiding saying anything his PC couldn't have seen. During play, the example might run like this:

    Player: "I call up Maria to warn her about the Gnostic conspiracy, but I get a 'service disconnected' message."

    Then, I as GM can have the service disconnection be due to the Gnostics, which ratchets up the tension in that plot thread, or I can have it be due to some other enemy, which can create the sense of the PC's situation spiralling out of control, or it can be due to Maria not having paid her phone bill, which will partially defuse the tension so that we can spike it up again.

    This is a tool most of the good players I've known have used very effectively. It lets them make up stuff that engages them, and then use it to hand an opening to the other players to do their own thing with it. Most often, it's player-GM (as in my examples), because the GM usually has the responsibility of tying everyone's stuff together, but sometimes it's player-player too.
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    Neel Krishnaswami
    Troy_Costisick
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    « Reply #11 on: May 23, 2005, 03:28:07 PM »

    Heya,

    Tony, are you describing a situation where Player A might use in-game currency (plot points we'll say) earned by his character to alter the desires, abilities, motivations, and/or destiny of Player B's character based on what Player A wants?  

    Peace,

    -Troy
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    TonyLB
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    « Reply #12 on: May 23, 2005, 04:22:11 PM »

    No, I don't think so.

    I'm a little fuzzy on this (I think because it's confusing).  But it goes roughly like this:  Assume Player A is describing what Character B does.  If his focus and justification is:
      [*]"I am focussed on Character B.  Character B would do this because of Character B's internal thoughts."  [Actor stance relative to Char-B ]
      [*]"I am focussed on Character B.  I want this, as a player, so I'll explain why Character B would do it."  [Author stance relative to Char-B ]
      [*]"I am focussed on Character A.  I want this, as a player, so I'll explain why Character B would do it."  [Director stance, relative to Char-A ]
      [*]"I am focussed on Character A.  Character B would do this because of Character A's internal thoughts." [Oracle stance, relative to Char-A ][/list:u]Under no circumstances (I think) does it matter in the slightest who "owns" the character in question.  That's just not a component of Stance theory, is it?
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      Troy_Costisick
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      « Reply #13 on: May 24, 2005, 06:15:08 AM »

      Heya,

      Quote
      Under no circumstances (I think) does it matter in the slightest who "owns" the character in question. That's just not a component of Stance theory, is it?


      Here is the definition of Author Stance and Director Stance:

      Quote
      Author Stance
      The person playing a character determines the character's decisions and actions based on the person's priorities, independently of the character?s knowledge and perceptions. Author Stance may or may not include a retroactive "motivation" of the character to perform the actions. When it lacks this feature, it is called Pawn Stance.

      Director Stance
      The person playing a character determines aspects of the environment relative to the character in some fashion, entirely separately from the character's knowledge or ability to influence events. Therefore the player has not only determined the character's actions, but the context, timing, and spatial circumstances of those actions, or even features of the world separate from the characters. Director Stance is often confused with narration of an in-game event, but the two concepts are not necessarily related.
       


      So, I think from what you and I are discussing, we're talking about a player affecting the decisions of a character he is not playing.  Neither of those two definitions seem to allow for such a thing unless other characters and their decisions are considered part of the environment in Director Stance.  I feel, however, that it may be stretching the definition a bit to include other Player-Characters and their decisions.  All the other stances are much more narrowly defined to include only the character played by the player.  IMHO, they all should be defined narrowly and specifically in order to cleraly delineate once stance from another and give a clear picture of that stances function.

      Oracle stance may, in fact, exist.  Defined as "The player determines the decisions and motivations for a character he is not playing based on the person's priorities, not the characters nor necissarily the priorities of the character's player." Is there an example of something like this?

      Peace,

      -Troy
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      Troy_Costisick
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      « Reply #14 on: May 24, 2005, 06:33:53 AM »

      Holy crap!

      Tony, I think you and I are talking about two different and potentially new stances.  Sorry to double post, but as I read back through the thread after I finished, I realized something.

      Tony Wrote:

      Quote
      "I am focussed on Character A. Character B would do this because of Character A's internal thoughts." [Oracle stance, relative to Char-A ]


      Okay, so what you are saying is Oracle Stance is "The player determines the decisions and motivations for a character he is not playing based on the priorities of the character he is playing."

      I can see that.  But here is what I was saying it was: "The player determines the decisions and motivations for a character he is not playing based on the person's priorities, not the characters nor necissarily the priorities of the character's player."

      Which is not even the same thing.  It seems more like a Puppetmaster Stance.  So I think the initial confusion between us was the same as someone's confusion between Actor Stance and Author Stance.  And I do believe they are different from any of the other stances because the players are describing the decisions of characters they are not playing.

      I might work this into a design for a new game.  Hmmm...  But anyway, is what I'm saying making sense to you?

      Peace,

      -Troy
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