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Looking deeper into Intuitive Continuity

Started by Walt Freitag, March 12, 2002, 01:11:44 AM

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Walt Freitag

Disclaimer: Presumptuous of me, I realize, to attempt a new thead with my very first post. Furthermore, I am new to this terminology and, while I believe I've absorbed the key concepts, I'm still in the process of fitting them into my cognitive map of interactive-storytelling-related concepts. (Terminology's a bitch. IF, Erasmatron, Dramaton, Dramatica, SIL/ILF, adventure LARPing, Oz/HAP, academic AI, Agent Stories, and miscellaneous Media Lab stuff, as well as conventional RPGs: each has its own specialized terminology mostly using all the same superset of words with specialized meanings just similar enough to lure one into confusion.) So I'm almost certain to misuse the local terminology. My apologies; I'll try my best. I've followed some of The Forge's members home from RPGnet, to set forth a Concept, and ask: where, if anywhere, does it fit within your current theories?

When I began gamemastering RPGs in the late 70s, I quickly converged on an Intuitive Continuity approach to play. This was partly due to circumstances: as a student I had little time in my schedule to develop elaborate plots or settings in advance of the game or even in advance of each session, and not much was available at the time in pre-generated form. Consequently, I winged it. I continued winging it even when I didn't have to, because it appeared to me (for reasons inexplicable at the time) that the less advance preparation I did, the better my sessions went. Furthermore, I found I had little interest in using pre-generated campaign material when it did start to become more available. While I thought at the time I was just being picky (nothing published seemed quite "good enough,") what was really happening was that I was almost subconsciously regarding all pre-generated settings as "dead," simply by virtue of their being pre-generated. More on that later.

What surprised me was that the results of my approach in terms of player satisfaction were far better than I had any right to expect. And it was fun. Though it usually meant I entered each session feeling like a fourth grader walking into class without having done his homework, by the end of the sessions I was usually immensely pleased with how the game had progressed.

And the story too. My goals were primarily narrativist at a time when few had more than a dim inkling that D&D had anything to do with storytelling. My job as the GM was to turn the players' unfettered decisions about what their characters would do into story (and story in the proper sense, not just a chronology of causally linked events). I used no overtly narrativist game mechanisms to do so. I did fudge GM die rolls but never obviously, and I always allowed player decisions and player die rolls to stand.

Now, I understand that under GNS theory what I was doing was not possible. I was, with my players, building interactive story without the use of consensual narrativist game mechanisms and without railroading or otherwise restricting my players' explorative freedom. When I began reading of GNS and related theories, I naturally questioned the theory because it contradicted my experience. But I've realized that there's nothing really wrong with the theory. It just rests on assumptions that are probably perfectly valid 99.9% of the time. For example, it appears to assume that a GM who's "winging it" is winging just the story, not the setting and background too.

I'm the 0.1% who wings the setting. Here's what I believe are the key ingredients in how I make it work:

1. The PCs know little about the world at the outset.

So, this rules out certain types of PCs, but it permits the most typical types: the inexperienced on a quest; explorers in a strange land; deep space voyagers.

2. The PCs experience with the world is relatively low bandwidth. Besides their limited starting knowledge about the world, they know only what they experience directly, or observe indirectly through history books they find, stories told by NPCs, visions, and unreliable supernatural or technological means (including knowledge of the future such as clairvoyance, precognition and prophecies).

So, this rules out pretty much any setting with mass media or large accessible libraries/databases. But this still leaves a great variety of genres, including most of the most popular ones.

3. There is a strong element of mystery. The characters know they don't, and won't, know everything that's going on.

4. Nothing is "real" in the setting except that which the player-characters have certain knowledge of. As GM I might make plans, I might even draw maps, but until a player experiences them I can throw them away if the players take the story in a direction that makes them no longer fit.

5. Plot elements are introduced without an ultimate purpose in mind, for opportunistic future use. For example, if all the player-characters are captured, and the story requires their rescue, I would not suddenly produce a rescuer out of nowhere. (The deus ex machina is a failure mode in this style, as I'm sure it is for others.) I would take an element that already exists and refine it into a rescuer (or into some other cause of rescue). For example, there is a mysterious stalker who has been shadowing the player-characters for several weeks. The players know he's there but they don't know what he wants. They also don't know that I don't know either! I introduced him, as I constantly introduce other unbound plot threads, on spec. If the situation calls for it, he'll become a rescuer. (He can't be just that, though; he'll also acquire, at that point, background and motivations consistent with his wanting to rescue the PCs and with any of his past actions the players know about. Those background and motivations can even change again later, if the players haven't learned of them yet, as long as they remain consistent with his known past actions.) Under different circumstances, he'd have turned out to be a spy or an attacker or a messenger or a love interest. He doesn't have a gender, after all, until a player-character knows what it is.

Thus the whole world (as Christopher Kubasik put it in an RPGnet post that appeared to suggest a similar approach as abstract theory) "radiates from the player-characters" according to the structure and needs of their story. Not just the present state of the world and course of events, but also its history, are all created on the fly. Any cat in a sealed box is both alive and dead; not only that, it's also a snake, a bomb, a treasure, a will, the Maltese Falcon, and a PC's spouse's head, until someone opens the box.

The players have complete control over the characters' actions. The game mechanics can have control over success or failure of those actions. I can live with that, because I have the entire rest of the world as degrees of freedom for shaping the story. I can and will move heaven and earth to do it, literally, if necessary.

My contention is that the players in this situation can retain fully immersed in Simulationist goals and outlooks. My manipulation of the setting does not break the Simulationist model because no inconsistency is being created (assuming I don't screw up). The fact that what the players don't see isn't really there, or is constantly changing, cannot possibly be relevant. Meanwhile, my play as GM is Narrativist in goal. It cannot be called Narrativist under GNS because no Narrativist mechanisms are used. Nonetheless, the result is a good story, sometimes a great story, and it is a story that is truly determined by the players' choices and truly authored by me. The impossible is done, though more usually after dinner than before breakfast.

Overall, the process begins with a small bit of setting (what the player-characters know at the outset... a bit of Shire and a few legends and ballads will do). The end product is a story, and as a by-product (a waste product, really, since it can't be reused in this mode of play) a setting is generated. Thus, I view the past few decades of RPG evolution with less enthusiasm than most, since one of the most consistent trends has been increasingly detailed and elaborate built-in settings and scenarios and metaplots. To me this is already-used-up material, GM output rather than GM input. If the setting and metaplot are already worked out, and even worse, already known to the players, then my approach doesn't work and I'm stuck back on the horns of the GNS trilemma with the rest of ya, having to sacrifice verisimilitude for narrative or vice versa.


Let's imagine someone reading this accepts it at face value. (I realize I've given no proof. Please feel free to toss a few "what-would-you-do-if" challenges my way. Or if you prefer, take everything I said above as a hypothetical possibility.) The question is, what kind of game mechanisms or setting-related tools could enhance this style of play, or make it more accessible to other GMs? What I'm thinking about is mechanisms that would be to this particular form of para-Narrativism what Narrativist game mechanisms are to GNS-defined Narrativism.

Once upon a time, some players and GMs learned that certain activities outside the bounds of conventional RPG rules (such as fudging die rolls, or deciding outcomes without rolling) made Narrativist play possible. To make that style of play more accessible, Narrativist game mechanisms were explicitly incorporated into new systems.

What sort of game mechanisms or resource materials could be incorporated into a new system that would analogously help GMs grasp and use the concept of para-Narrativist on-the-fly world/story building? Could Intuitive Continuity be made less purely intuitive, more accessible, with the right tools? I'm thinking along the lines of mechanisms that could regulate the introduction of unbound story elements (the mysterious stalker, the distant distress signal) based somehow on PC conflict maps; or meta-settings that embody a genre and premise(s) and provide flexible libraries of basic story elements appropriate to them. Resolution mechanisms don't appear to be an issue, since a variety of conventional mechanisms appear quite adequate. But mechanisms would be needed (or at least useful) for aspects of play that have never needed game mechanics before, such as for learning (that is, equivalently, creating) historical information about the world.

If you've read this far, thank you for your patience. Is this already being done somewhere? Does it look plausible? Am I delusional? Any thoughts?

- Walt
Wandering in the diasporosphere

Christopher Kubasik

Walt (and everybody),


And when I posted on that it was time for a "new dance,"  I was speaking to an, apparently, newer generation of RPGers who grew up during the meta-plot-module-wait-for-the-next-book-with-the-map-of-over-the next-hill publishing era.  They seems utterly confused as to why their games are no fun, and are making mistakes that you cleverly avoided.  Yes, the new dance I proposed is an old dance, but one forgotten and never heard of by the youngsters -- so it's new to them.  (And isn't that always the way these things go.)


I echo your questions.  (I had planned posting something here as well along the same lines.)  After reading lots and lots of posts over at I started getting confused about what I thought I understood.

If the GNS model is based on the intention of play, at what point do the rules get in the way -- if at all?

If I take V:tM, and gut the Humanity rules so that the players retain control of their characters at all times (clearly a Narrativist no-no for thematic and narrative action to be dictated by a die roll) -- then open up the world to let the protagonists drive the story and the world, if we *mean* to be playing narrativist, and we're willing to accept getting bogged down in rules that don't move things along as swiftly as we'd like but accept them nonetheless, are we playing Narrativist?

Does intent trump rules?  Do the rules only help or hinder the intent?

Can any set of game rules be played Narrativist, as long as one is willing to accept clumsey access and search times for the resolutions of events?  (Anyone interested: check out Rules Do Matter in the Articles section for definition of these terms.)  Is it simply a matter of a sliding scale of encouragement of G, N or S?

Finally, Fudging die rolls.  Many people assume that fudging rolls is typical for Narrativists.  I'm under the impression that once you've stripped down the rules to serve Narrativist goals as mean and lean as possible, you *don't* fudge the rolls anymore, because (as suggested above), the rules are no longer working at a cross-purpose to the Narrativsits intention, so you no longer have to fudge.  Has this been the experience of other players in Narrativist designed games?


Walt, a couple of responses to issues you raise:

1) Gamist and Narrativist games also concern themselves with no "inconsistency being created."  

In Aliens, each new element that we didn't know about before builds on what came before, but doesn't contradict it.  The Queen Alien is unprecedented in the two movies until she arrives, but her arrival is consistent with what we've learned already.  That's Narrativism neutral.  What makes it Narrativism Ripley's caught up in a battle of self-preservation vs. preservation of the species -- taking on the role of a Mom and facing the worst thing in the universe -- instead of skulking around back on Earth where the worst thing in the world isn't.  And what's the opponet she faces?  A creature with the same dilema, reinforcing the story's Premise.

Simulationsist means putting absolute priority on "experiencing" whatever is being modelled -- though, again, it should be consistent.  (We could play three hours of what does it "feel like" to be a bored space marine en route to a world that might have aliens -- bad story, but it might be full of great little bits of simulation.)  

Sounds like you put the priority on story, which brings us back to rules, which is why I'm jumping on your this thread.  

2) The only place I can see where there's a disconnect between what you do and Narrativist in terms of gaming "style" (as opposed to rules), is the matter of the PCs knowing little about the world at the outset.

According the GNS article, Narrativism depends a great deal on Author stance, which requires the players be completely engaged with their charcters, while being removed from their characters for the purpose of making a better story.

(Example of extreme failure of this double logic from real life for parties who think this is just nutso: the actor playing Claudius, driven to win his battle with Hamlet, refuses the actor playing Hamlet to get in the death stroke, and instead circles him around the stage looking for his chances to jab his fake rapier into "Hamlet."  The actor's job is to play the part with utter passion, immediate spontinaity, *and* repsect the needs of the story  Some folks think this dumps the actor playing Claudius is no more than a "pawn."  I think an actor playing a part with the three qualifications listed is simply a good actor doing his job well.)

Thus, the players often know much more about the setting than their characters could -- but choose not to act on it.  It sounds  like your games worked great -- but, as you said, it limits genre a bit.  This, I think, is a major difference between the style of play you've created and the style suggested by the GNS model.

Thanks for getting this thread started.


(PS, guys, I know you all probably debated this all for eight four years at GO.  Forgive us.)
"Can't we for once just do what we're supposed to do -- and then stop?
Lemonhead, The Shield


Goddamn it.

Goddamn it!!

Walt - you have it exactly.  Your points are beautifully scripted -- this is exactly how I run 100% of my campaigns and 95% of my one-shot adventures.  It all works wonderfully.

I've been running a long Vampire:TM game for several years and each of your points has been applied; my players are narrativist dilletantes at heart and, god bless their hearts, went along graciously with my GMing style.  Here are you points and how I dealt with them:

#1 - I reinvented the World of Darkness to a big degree by introducing terrible events that drastically altered the status quo; all the vamps were suddenly on the same playing field - what they knew wasn't the case anymore. (for me, the WoD exists only with vamps -- the other supernaturals don't really exist)

#2 I threw out most of the WoD mythology and provided means for the players to learn My Version of stuff through a parallel storyline played with plain old human characters investigating the unknown.  This was, by metaphor, a "low bandwith" manner for the players to discover this new world/landscape.  "Player" knowledge crossed over to their vampire characters; it informed their roleplaying without hijacking the supernaturals.

#3  Conspiracy wrapped in enigma wrapped in mystery.  The characters do their best to get their minds around the various layers of subtrefuge around them; it all resulted in a deep, mysterious atmosphere.

#4  Liked Ron advocates in Sorcerer and Sword, I've embraced this philosphy utterly.  I'm never bound by any fleshed out location or direction.  The players may go anywhere, do anything...

#5  Arguably my favorite bit -- and you really nailed the description well.  Personally, I call elements in the game that "fit" the player's actions, "polymorph plotting".  NPCs, items, locations -- they're like switches I can move on and off depending on situations.  I use them extensively and, as long as I maintain consistency, I'm able to do with them what I need to do to support, deter, contrast or conflict with player actions.

Sorry for the lengthy post; I'm sure I've bored most everyone still reading.  My point is, I used your "key ingredients" in a modern setting by using my player's expectations of the established mythology *against* them.  It's worked beautifully.  I can only hope my players never read this post; their simulationist dreams might be shattered forever.  :)

- Ian Noble


I think the GNS analysis of this style of play, although I do not speak for the GNS in any capacity, is that it is "effective illusionism".  I think the distinction with narrativist play is that the players are directly, and consciously, engaged in the construction of the story.  Although there is much player-to-gm feedback in the above structure, the players are, as described, still immersed in the sim *experiencing* the story rather than proactively engaged in *creating* the story.  I would expect, in GNS terms, it would be described as "semi-drifted sim".
Impeach the bomber boys:

"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

GB Steve

Rambling repsonse.

Well I don't like GNS* and I'd not really registered the term Intuitive Continuity before but that's pretty much how I've been running my games ever since I stopped doing Dunjon Krawls about 20 years ago. The method has become refined and I think perhaps that I'm also more aware that I'm making a concious effort in this direction. It's harder to apply in the case of a convention game but I think the conventions, or at least, the expectations of such a game are different anyway.

That's not to say that I don't work on preparing games but that the prep is very different. Nowadays it's mostly a matter of situating the PCs and creating the initial situation.

Situating the PCs covers:
- guidance on PC creation, they need to be suitable for the game I have in mind, or at the very least for each other
- public background details, what the PCs' situation is, what kind of power they have, who they know
- private background details, things that will affect what will happen that the PCs don't know, don't yet know or might never know like who is pulling the strings, what state of mind of an NPC caused the whole scenario to start in the first place etc. This is blends into,

The Initial Situation
- description of the tension, to create interest, there needs to be some tension, either internal to a character (PC or NPC) or some external factor.

I might go so far as to jot down a few possible set pieces, events that I think are likely to occur such as a Raid on the Mage's House, or Staking The Vampire, or The Lightsabre Duel but these will not necessarily be used.

What happens subsequently is very much as described in the first mail in this thread. I strive to create a balance between player expectations and surprise. Mostly I go with player expectations but you need to throw in something else to the mix, to keep them on their toes, to stop things going stale. After all if the players realise they are running the show then they might start to second guess things, to play metagaming roles instead of gaming roles and that is not what *I* want.

If I'm running a murder mystery I won't decide whodunnit until such time as is appropriate. This depends on player suspicions, how much time they have spent exploring different leads etc. I don't want the players to miss important clues so I let them decide, through their PCs actions what is important. I judge the mood of the game as to when I should reveal important information or create my own events, that is one's that are NPC rather than PC driven.

I find this style of gaming much more rewarding but it is hard. You need to be on your toes, you need to evaluate events very quickly. You can also make mistakes. I've found players don't mind though if you own up, revise the situation and just get on with things.

I have found though that the real key to this style of gaming is player involvement. That is, allow players to invent. They are far more forgiving of your invention if they can play too! If players can IC then the game is even more I and even more C, what more could you ask for?

GB Steve

* A GNS aside.
I'm still working through this but I was wondering what the extremes of GNS mean (call it sensitivity analysis or asymptotic behaviour, hey! I am a mathematician) and it seems that they are either not RPGs or meaningless.
G taken to the extreme leads to Monopoly - not an RPG
N taken to the extreme leads to Baron Munchausen - not a (trad) RPG
S taken to the extreme leads to ... nothing. S is always there but is never the prime concern.


Great thread!

I just have a couple quick comments.

I believe, as I noted in a thread in GNS theory, that there is no such thing as  Narrativist Game or a Simulationist Player.  There is only the type of decision being made.  A Narrativist Game then is nothing more than a game which provides specific mechanics for encouraging Narrativist Decision making, etc.  Thus, I would contend (and I'm pretty sure Ron would agree with this) that Narrativist play does not *require* Narrativist mechanics as the initial post suggests, its just greatly assisted by it.

Thus, any game could be played Narrativistly, as long as 1) there are no rules that actively prohibit Narrativist decision making, or 2) those rules are ignored.  

In this case it appears that the player's themselves are making Simulationist decisions based on facts they believe to be true.  Although I must say I do find it hard to believe that after a couple of game sessions the players won't get wise to the technique (or at least suspicious), and either grow disatisfied with it or willingly decide to go along with it.

[Plug Mode]
With that said, I'll throw in a little plug for a game Mike Holmes and I are designing called Universalis.  It relies almost exclusively on shared power mechanics, BUT requires exactly the sort of mind set being described above.  The entire world starts from a blank piece of paper and is described and defined only in play and only by the players.  It is the standard mode of play for 1 player to Create a locked box, and for nobody (including the Creator) to have any idea whats inside until its opened.  The only parts of the world that exist are those parts that the players bother to visit or describe.

We are currently looking for serious playtesters (we are passed the "I'll read it over and make a few comments" stage).  I bring it up because mention has been made about mechanics that encourage and promote this style of play, and Universalis does that.  Send me a PM and we'll get you set up on the Universalis forum and get you a copy of the latest rules.  Only requirement is actual play, a thorough report of the game(s), and that it be done in the next month or two at the latest.
[/Plug Mode]

Le Joueur

Quote from: contracycleIt is "effective illusionism".  I think the distinction with narrativist play is that the players are directly, and consciously, engaged in the construction of the story.
Quote from: contracycleI would expect, in GNS terms, it would be described as "semi-drifted sim".
Actually, for the record, I think what has been a described, counts as almost the poster child for 'abashedly Narrativist.'  According to my sources, 'Illusionism' requires something of a gamemaster created plot that the players 'explore.'  Since this is likened to Intuitive Continuity with the players mostly sticking to character PoV and the gamemaster actively working on 'literary' story-intent (as opposed to story-result) it pretty much defines 'abashed Narrativism.'

As far as drift is concerned, I don't see any other way of handling this style of play.  I pretty sure that no 'abashedly Narrativist' systems have been created as such, so anything they might use would have to be 'drifted.'

As far as better game systems go, I'd have to say that Universalis (as great as the writers see it) would be a poor fit exactly because of the 'abashed' quality.  Universalis (or the Pool, or whatever) require player 'buy in' on the Narrativist goals.  That sounds like it would be a huge jump (and potentially a fatal shock) for this gaming group.

I can't say that there are any 'system' solutions to satisfying the original poster, nor whether one is necessary.  His style of play is intriguingly 'Schrödinger's box'ish, and I too have experimented with the beginnings of it.  However, I do not see it as not fitting in the whole GNS theory (especially if you include vanilla and abashed modes), so I don't know that there is much new commentary that can be added.

Fang Langford
Fang Langford is the creator of Scattershot presents: Universe 6 - The World of the Modern Fantastic.  Please stop by and help!


Good points Fang.  GNS certainly has room for "stealth Narrativism" as I call it.

Whether or not Universalis would be a good fit would depend on whether the players are aware of points 1-5 in Walt's initial post.  If not then having a look at the man behind the curtain would probably be a shock as you say.  

However, I find it hard to accept that players are actually fooled for long by this style of play.  At some point they certainly become aware of it and make a decision to go along with it.   I have trouble imagining a GM who is so incredibly good at gaming slieght of hand that players never realize that all that stuff isn't already created in advance.

So for players that are aware of things like the world not being real until they interact with it and plot objects being amorphous until called upon, and they'd like to get a chance to do this sort of thing for themselves, then it would probably work well.  Other wise you're right, the appeal would be limited to the GM's who do this sort of thing.

Christopher Kubasik


I can add one little thing, an extension off some comments made so far and a clarrification of something I mentioned in my own post:

GNS doesn't suggest you only *add* rules to tighten up a game design  and focus it to one of the three nodes.  You also cut rules to focus the G, N or S -- working to only use rules that strengthen the purpose of play.

Here's a scene from Pulp Fiction


The bathroom door BURSTS OPEN and the Fourth Man CHARGES out, silver Magnum raised, FIRING SIX BOOMING SHOTS from his hand cannon.

                               FOURTH MAN

DOLLY INTO Fourth Man, same as before.

He SCREAM until he's dry firing.  Then a look of confusion crosses his face.


standing next to each other, unharmed.  Amazing as it seems, none of the Fourth Man's shots appear to have hit anybody.
Jules and Vincent exchange looks like, "Are we hit?"  They're as confused at the shooter.  After looking at each other, they bring their looks up to the Fourth Man.

                             FOURTH MAN
        I don't understand --

The Fourth Man is taken out of the scenario by the two men's bullets who, unlike his, HIT their marks.  He drops DEAD.

The two men lower their guns.  Jules, obviously shaken, sits down in a chair.  Vincent, after a moment of respect, shrugs it off.  Then heads toward Marvin in the corner.

            Why the fuck didn't you tell us
            about that guy in the bathroom?
            Slip your mind?  Forget he was in
            there with a goddamn hand cannon?

                           (to himself)
           We should be fuckin' dead right
           Did you see that gun he fired at
           us?  It was bigger than him.


            We should be fuckin' dead!

           Yeah, we were lucky.

Jules rises, moving toward Vincent.

            That shit wasn't luck.  That shit
            was somethin' else.

Vincent prepares to leave.

           Yeah, maybe.

           That was...divine intervention.
           You know what divine intervention

           Yeah, I think so.  That means God
           came down from Heaven and stopped
           the bullets.

            Yeah, man, that's what is means.
            That's exactly what it means!  God
            came down from Heaven and stopped
            the bullets.

            I think we should be going now.

            Don't do that!  Don't you fuckin'
            do that!  Don't blow this shit off!
            What just happened was a fuckin'

           Chill the fuck out, Jules, this
           shit happens.

           Wrong, wrong, this shit doesn't
           just happen.

           Do you wanna continue this
           theological discussion in the car,
           or at the jailhouse with the cops?

We should be fuckin' dead now, my
friend!  We just witnessed a
miracle, and I want you to fuckin'
acknowledge it!

Okay man, it was a miracle, can we
leave now?


The point is for Narrativist play, the scene isn't about the actual mechanics of the gun -- it's about the moral awakening of a hit man.  His partner will actually do everything he can to distract himself from being aware of what going on -- doing everything from drugs to reading books while guns are being drawn nearby to distract himself from "waking up."  The arguement between these two characters will provide part of the arguement of the Narravist Premise.

You can, of course, *do the same thing with an S or G design.*  Tactical decisions and rules to simulate the difference bewteen a .45 and .357 are fine.  But they will slow down, for the Narrativist, getting to the meat of the scene, which is the character's reactions to and choices about stressful incidents.  Mechanics for actually showing the difference between the three guns in the scene don't add anything -- and would be jettisoned in an N design.

Removing rules, as well as adding them, is part of a GNS game design choice.

"Can't we for once just do what we're supposed to do -- and then stop?
Lemonhead, The Shield

Jack Spencer Jr

I think I kind of see where this thread is going.  It's sort of about preparation and how much a typical RPG requires and how much a typical group does.

Typically, there is a lot of preparation involve.  You need to create a character with (almost) every conceivable detail pre-determined.  The GM builds a world ahead of time and sets up a plot.

I've been sort of wondering if all of this prep-time would be better spent washing the car.  I mean, how much of that information ever really gets used?

A friend of mine love the Central Casting books.  At least he likes the fantasy one.  I hate it because it takes a couple hours, especially when he does the entire group at once and basically all you get from it are A) a chance at spiffy skills of magic items, but and equal chance of negative stuff like being a quadraplegic(sp?) B) stuff that does not matter one whit during play.

Now, I can understand that you might need something ahead of time.  That's understandable.  But it's not always true that it's better to have it and not need it than to need it and not have it. SOmetimes, when you need it is when you start having it.

I'm also looking at consistency a little different.  Robinson Crusoe (I haven't read it, but I've often heard this part mentioned) strips down naked and swims out to his ship for supplies and then proceeds to fill his pockets. Consistency doesn't matter unless it would interfere with someone's enjoyment of the game.  Too often players are doggedly consistent thinking that it will enhance theirs and other's enjoyment.  This is not necessarily so.

I've been kind of thinking of this the other way, having little if anything prepared ahead of time and letting everything come about as you play.I susect that if I'm lucky, this will become some kind of movement for a while (if not, it'll be just me.  Hi.) and then someone else will swing the pendulum back

"RPGs don't have anything prepared ahead of time.  How much better it would be to have things preapred before you sit down to play."

But, we'll have to see about that.

Jared A. Sorensen

Quote from: Christopher Kubasik
I can add one little thing, an extension off some comments made so far and a clarrification of something I mentioned in my own post:

GNS doesn't suggest you only *add* rules to tighten up a game design  and focus it to one of the three nodes.  You also cut rules to focus the G, N or S -- working to only use rules that strengthen the purpose of play.

Yup. That's pretty much my philosophy -- pare everything down to just the essentials. Which is why I dislike "optional rules" so intensely.
jared a. sorensen /

Christopher Kubasik


I don't know if I'm disagreeing with you, but I'll point out that on the Art Deco Melodrama threads over on the Sorcerer board, Ron did a lot of preperation for a Narrativist game.  It's just a different kind of preperation

I think Walt was asking about mechanics and in play decision making.  He also mentioned issues of stance -- and GB Steve and Ian added to that as well.

I still think we're mostly talking about how, exactly, in the moment of play, do you play to best bring out different results.

"Can't we for once just do what we're supposed to do -- and then stop?
Lemonhead, The Shield

Jack Spencer Jr


First of all, call me Jack.  I'm sick of being pblock.  I've changed my handle to my real name on most of the forums I frequent.  We'll see if I did it right here with this post (fingers crossed)

I get the idea of producing different results via different means.  Isn't there a line in 28 Days to that effect?  I forget the actually line but it was when they were undergoing the horse therapy "The definition of (blank) is doing the same thing expecting different results."  I wish I could remember the blank.  I think it was insanity, but it was probably futility.

This is why I find most game design forums/list/what have you to be depressing.  Some chump has a RPG design and they say things like "It will bring new people into the hobby" or "It will revolutionize RPGs" or some similar bit of shameless self-promotion. ("It will bring women into gaming." I rather like that one) Then you look at their game, and it may actually be a very good design original it concept and execution, but fundamentally, it is no different from D&D.  They are doing the same thing expecting different results.

Looking back, it's funny how many people I've seen make the comment that the new edition of D&D will bring new people into the hobby.  Poppycock. 3e didn't bring new people into the hobby.  Not enough to resister on the meter, anyway. It sold so well because all of the old hand at D&D, especially those who had given up on D&D decided to take a look.

But I'm getting off topic here.

Narrativist games, as you say, cut out certain rules that are not necesary.  My question is, if you can cut out this, this, this and this, why are you leaving in that and that? (if you're following me)

The answer is that these rules help.  And I'm not denying that.  Help is always good to have, but it is not necessary. Taken to the extreme, I guess I'm looking at pure freeform.  WHich does produce very differnet results.

I'm sure I had a point there somewhere but I lost it.  Oh well.  Did my handle change?

Edit: well, it's changed now.  Thanks, Clinton.

Christopher Kubasik

For anyone who's interested, Ron's started a new thread replying t to "GNS Misconecptions" over on the GNS board.  It addresses some of the matter here, and a lot of the matters from the thread.

Here's a link for you!
"Can't we for once just do what we're supposed to do -- and then stop?
Lemonhead, The Shield

Jared A. Sorensen

Quote from: Jack Spencer Jr
Narrativist games, as you say, cut out certain rules that are not necesary.  My question is, if you can cut out this, this, this and this, why are you leaving in that and that? (if you're following me)

The answer is that these rules help.  And I'm not denying that.  Help is always good to have, but it is not necessary. Taken to the extreme, I guess I'm looking at pure freeform.  WHich does produce very differnet results.

I'm sure I had a point there somewhere but I lost it.  Oh well.  Did my handle change?

Well-designed games cut out unnecessary rules, not Narrativist games (we shouldn't equal "Narrativist" with "good").

You know that old line about "if the rules get in the way, ignore them."? I hate that.

Regarding your earlier point, I think that failed innovation is far better than successful imitation. Which (frankly) most games seem to be. Imitation of an existing game and/or play style. I can never understand how people can talk about a game being good or bad and not talking about the underlying design -- what they're usually saying is, "Wow. Game X is a great [copy of D&D or GURPS or whatever]."
jared a. sorensen /