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Author Topic: What is Illusionism?  (Read 17202 times)
Le Joueur
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« on: March 14, 2002, 03:46:22 PM »

Since I started this,

Quote from: Le Joueur
What about the above: "using any illusion to cause the players to believe they caused a story, when they have not."? No subcategories, no planning implied, no dysfunctional language, clear and right to the point. Does it work for you, and if not, how 'bout let's start another thread on it?
Quote from: Le Joueur
Quote from: Steve Dustin
When I see the term Illusionism, I see it as meaning total GM control over the story (which is not depend on when a story is planned or whatever the ultimate result of that play will be). To me, that's what is important about using that term. It doesn't take much to add a caveat (with or without player approval), but it does take a lot to redefine many narrow terms over and over, in relation to one another.

Only one problem, where are the illusions?

I might as well take it to another thread, eh?

Okay, let's get out the debating tools.  Really, what is Illusionism?

Quote from: In an excerpt of the original article, Mithras
I [was] wondering, however, about narrativism in general, refereeing a great story, and I've sort of come to the conclusion that a great referee is a great illusionist.

I prepare the bare bones of a dramatic plot and we start gaming. If the players start screwing around and avoiding my plot I don't often indulge them and create an entire new plot on the fly. I twist, I deceive, I back-track and lie - I create the illusion that what they're doing is all part of the plot, and *wrap the plot around them*. All referees do it. They have to.

So what I try to do in advance is to create this illusion of total free choice in advance of the campaign. In a scenario, I work hard to pull, push and cajole the players into reaching the goal of the plot, but this is often an easy task.

Harder, is to give the players the feeling that they are forging ahead through their character's lives in any direction they choose. Most referees (myself included) present and play one scenario after another in a linear fashion. The players go along with the scenario and play to its conclusion.

[Personal example edited.]

The illusion of freedom.

Now Mithras might have been a little heavy with the "All referees do it" stuff, but he's definitely on to something.

I can't really edit the following so I leave Ron's latest comment on the topic as a link: Intuitive Continuity, help yourself.

Now before we go much farther, I need to go on record saying that the tightest, most concise definitions are to my taste (but no restriction on this conversation).  I believe they avoid constant addendums, permutations, and other blurring of their focus.  If you can't put it simply, break it into several words then.

That being said; I must again submit "Illusionism (as it applies to gamemastering) - The use by the gamemaster of any kind illusion (falsehood, fiction, or otherwise) to create in that gamemaster's players, the belief that they have been the cause of a story, when in fact the story comes entirely from the gamemaster."

Points to note:
    [*]The time of the story's creation is unspecified.
    [*]Illusion (falsehood, fiction, or otherwise) must have been practiced.
    [*]Illusionism is not described as dysfunctional.[/list:u]This means that you cannot practice Illusionism with player awareness, as it is self-contradictory.  This also means that, while it may be rather difficult, it can be practiced successfully.

    Considering all that, I personally believe that the practice of Illusionism (as described above) is inherently difficult and can only become moreso over the long term under the theorem "Oh what a tangled web we weave, when we first practice to deceive."  I also believe that the instant of 'disillusionment' (when the players become disillusioned about who is actually creating the story) is the point at which Illusionism becomes patently dysfunctional.

    There are some common mistakes I see people making based on this description.
      [*]Assuming that player complicity is not an issue and that players can knowingly be the victims of Illusionism.

      This fails because they do not believe they are the cause of the story.

      [*]Identifying all illusions as Illusionism.

      Note above it specifically says "use...of...illusion...to create...the belief."  This means that illusions used for something other than to create such a belief are not Illusionism, just being plain ordinary illusions.

      [*]Thinking that, just because players have become accustomed to having an Illusionist gamemaster and have habits that make his practice easier, means that they are complicit in the Illusionism.

      This fails because the players still don't know.

      [*]Believing that if its common or widespread, it must be easy to keep functional.

      I can't say how many times I have had to suggest sharing the story creation to unsatisfied gamemasters, I really don't see this as a lasting trend (at least not around where I am), it seems more like anecdotes from the lucky few who have mastered it.

      [*]Considering that Illusionism is a subsection of Simulationism.

      I have to argue, based on the above description, you really could be an Illusionist gamemaster with Narrativist players.  (It might be an astounding piece of work to marginalize all their story contributions without them 'catching on,' but I don't see why it can't be done.)

      [*]Adopting the term just because it's so darn sexy; "Hey baby, I'm a 13th level Illusionist, wanna play my game?"

      Having a concise description will allow this kind of self-delusion to be put off.[/list:u]Ultimately the question I am pressing here (because of I am not sure on the application of another terminology) is, considering those things that other people believe are a part of Illusionism, that are clearly not in my description of it, what, if anything, does not fall into the realm of 'vanilla Narrativism' explicitly?

      That which is neither in my version of Illusionism nor in Ron's definition of 'vanilla Narrativism,' would be exactly the parts I would need to consider in order to be swayed from my description.  Barring any such thing, can we safely say that I have given Illusionism it's permanent Forge description?

      Fang Langford

      p.s. In case anyone needs them (heaven knows I do), here are the pertinent links describing 'vanilla Narrativism:'
      Quote from: Ron Edwards


      p. p. s. I should also state for the record, I have serious issues with the full exploitation of the GNS and with the term Illusionist anyway.  I simply posted this article in the name of fairness and to promote clarity and discussion.  Privately, I plan to continue to avoid using Illusionism to describe any kind of gaming as well as any terms in the GNS.  Don't take fluency to mean acceptance on my part.

      [Editted to add another 'common misconception.']
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      Steve Dustin
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      « Reply #1 on: March 14, 2002, 04:39:44 PM »

      Wow, that was a thick post.

      Quick question, Fang (I don't know why I didn't think of this earlier), if you go see a stage magician perform tricks, don't you usually know they are illusions to begin with? If you know, do they cease to be illusions?

      Why is it you don't have to know its an illusion in roleplaying for it to be one?

      I still stick with my general statement: same techniques, same result, same thing. I don't think the issue of player complicity is important.

      Frankly, when you say that when a game will end differently, although its played the same way, I have to take your word for it without some evidence. I think you are trying to find a way to wrap up satisfaction with a technique and I don't think that's a good idea.

      Now, I'll let the experts define illusionism. I just don't think its useful if it describes something that is similar, with the caveat the players are being lied to. That's a communication problem, and should be separated from the issue of roleplaying technique.

      Steve
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      Le Joueur
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      ???
      « Reply #2 on: March 15, 2002, 07:18:07 AM »

      Quote from: Steve Dustin
      Wow, that was a thick post.

      Apparently my specialty.

      Quote from: Steve Dustin
      Quick question, Fang (I don't know why I didn't think of this earlier), if you go see a stage magician perform tricks, don't you usually know they are illusions to begin with? If you know, do they cease to be illusions?

      That's because stage magician is not a gamemaster!  If you must use a non-gaming metaphor, try the old con game.  Is it still a con if you know what they're up to?  Hell no!

      The main problem here is your refusal to consider my point that not every illusion comes from an Illusionist.

      In simplest terms:
        All illusions
      do not equal Illusionism.

      Illusions used to disguise who's story it is equal Illusionism.[/list:u]Why are you failing to acknowledge this point?

      Quote from: Steve Dustin
      I still stick with my general statement: same techniques, same result, same thing. I don't think the issue of player complicity is important.

      That would be true if you could show that the results were the same every single time for everyone.  I know your results vary, but you can't stereotype what happens to you onto everyone else.

      In my experience there are three "results:"[list=1][*]The game ends or is quit relatively early.
      [*]The game goes on for a while and it becomes progressively more difficult for the Illusionist to 'pull it off.'
      [*]The players reach a point of 'disillusionment.'[/list:o]You seem to have relatively pliable players who've learned the habits that make number 2 possible, but it should be obvious by that lack of supporting testimony, that this is far from common.  (In fact, I might go so far as to point out that that 'pliability' may, in fact, be what's making your games "boring.")  The fact that you are getting fed up with it, indicates things will probably end in a delayed version of number 1.

      None of that is possible if the players know it's the gamemaster's story exclusively.  (Okay, number 1 is always possible.)  It can't become harder because you don't need to cover 'the rough edges' of one illusion with another; the players know to turn a blind eye.  Number three is not possible because there isn't any 'illusionment' in the first place.

      Why will you not even consider this point?  These results are markedly different!  Is it because you do not like the 'vanilla Narrativism' label?

      Quote from: Steve Dustin
      Frankly, when you say that when a game will end differently, although it's played the same way, I have to take your word for it without some evidence. I think you are trying to find a way to wrap up satisfaction with a technique and I don't think that's a good idea.

      Please don't resort to the old internet hack, 'I won't even consider your point, unless you can provide proof.'  First of all, I have (my own experiences), but you have ignored it (as is easy on the internet).  Secondly, you can't prove anything on the internet!

      As for the "satisfaction" issue, where in the above definition do you see "satisfaction" as an issue?  Back in the other thread, I already owned up to the fact that some people can make Illusionism work and dropped the 'dysfunctional' issue.  I don't believe there's any argument against the idea that Illusionism is difficult (as many have attested), and I think I support the theory rather well that it becomes progressively moreso.

      Now, it's my turn to ask you a question; why are you having so much trouble even acknowledging that 'not telling the players' is inherently a 'different technique' that cannot avoid having 'different results?'  Are you so married to the idea that you practice Illusionism no matter how anyone tries to describe it that you will do nothing but either ignore their points or denounce their discussion?

      I'm trying to be reasonable here, but you aren't even dignifying my remarks.

      Fang Langford
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      Ron Edwards
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      « Reply #3 on: March 15, 2002, 08:38:00 AM »

      Hey,

      I call for a settle-down. It's time for all of us to check out old Illusionism threads, to get up to the same speed about what's been said and what hasn't, and to avoid getting hung up on what exactly that guy just said that isn't exactly what you just said.

      As was made clear in another thread, the Illusionism definition needs to be clarified anyway. It seems to me, at this point, that we are working with a sensu lato vs. sensu stricto situation. It also seems to me that we need to distinguish very carefully between deception and illusion, as well as functional vs. dysfunctional; none of these pairs are synonyms.

      But most importantly, take a break. Take TWO breaks. Fang, remember that Steve is new to the Forge and still feeling out how we deal with things. Steve, be sensitive to when a person does not receive the acknowledgment they need that they are being heard.

      Best,
      Ron
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      Seth L. Blumberg
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      « Reply #4 on: March 16, 2002, 08:15:28 AM »

      I don't think any of my players harbor any mistaken beliefs about the locus of authorial power in my games. Hell, a few weeks ago (after I'd just read Ron's essays and some of the more interesting old threads here), I came out and told my players that I was in charge of the plot, and none of them argued or even looked askance.

      I've always identified myself as Illusionist, because the majority of my GMing effort is aimed at preserving the appearance that PC actions have a major impact on the plot, when in fact most of the plot decisions are mine alone. (I say "most" because I often let player decisions create new subplots, if the direction that the player is exploring seems interesting to me but isn't part of the existing plot; once a subplot has been created, however, I am firmly in control of where it goes.)

      No one's lying to anyone, though.

      So, Fang, tell me this: if I'm not an Illusionist GM, what am I?

      (And don't tell me I'm a Vanilla Narrativist. My players aren't creating the plot, except by accident.)

      {edited to insert my real name, which is Seth L. Blumberg, in accordance with policy}
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      the gamer formerly known as Metal Fatigue
      Walt Freitag
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      « Reply #5 on: March 16, 2002, 09:53:32 AM »

      I think Metal has good points. To generalize: the main purpose of all the illusions in my illusionary practices is not to deceive players into thinking something is true; it's to avoid unnecessarily reminding them that it isn't. That's a big difference.

      - Walt
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      Le Joueur
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      « Reply #6 on: March 16, 2002, 04:52:19 PM »

      Quote from: Metal Fatigue
      I don't think any of my players harbor any mistaken beliefs about the locus of authorial power in my games. Hell, a few weeks ago (after I'd just read Ron's essays and some of the more interesting old threads here), I came out and told my players that I was in charge of the plot, and none of them argued or even looked askance.

      According to my understanding of Narrativism, a lot depends on whether the player value story.  Are they playing for the story (even if its yours) or are they 'exploring?'

      It does really matter either way if they don't argue or look in askance, it's about whether their into story-intent or story-result.  Are they now aware that you are working for story-intent or do they stick by liking the story-result.  (Story-intent is going into it manipulating the 'literary' elements to create a story from the beginning; story-result is 'looking back' and seeing what a good story was made.  "Illusioned" players believe it was the accidental result of their own choices and not 'forced.')

      Quote from: Metal Fatigue
      I've always identified myself as Illusionist, because the majority of my GMing effort is aimed at preserving the appearance that PC actions have a major impact on the plot,

      Again the real question would be are you manipulating the plot (guiding the story-result) or have you created (are creating as you go) the plot (vending the story-intended)?  The latter would be Illusionism, the former (I think) would be Simulationism to 'explore story.'

      Quote from: Metal Fatigue
      when in fact most of the plot decisions are mine alone. (I say "most" because I often let player decisions create new subplots, if the direction that the player is exploring seems interesting to me but isn't part of the existing plot; once a subplot has been created, however, I am firmly in control of where it goes.)

      I'm going to have to guess this is 'drift' towards Narrativism of some kind, unless the players have no concept of these "new subplots" as features of story, otherwise it'd probably still be Simulationism 'exploring story,' with slight more sharing of 'control' then you have heretofore described.  This outline is a little to vague, I'd probably have to actually sit in on your group to 'get a handle' on what you are doing.  (The best I can do here is describe how to tell what from which and let you figure it out; it's really about 'self-diagnosis.'  For that matter, as I understand it GNS and its application to Illusionism is almost entirely for those whose gaming experience is unsatisfying; are you having problems?)

      Quote from: Metal Fatigue
      No one's lying to anyone, though.

      So, Fang, tell me this: if I'm not an Illusionist GM, what am I?

      Like I said, it mostly comes down to the expectations of those who come to the table.  If all present are there because of the story-intended (whether passively giving proxy to the gamemaster or otherwise), it's either former-Illusionism or 'vanilla Narrativism.'  If the players are there because they like the story-result and their exploration (guided by gamemaster illusion) is Simulationist to them, then it would be Illusionism.

      I have even seen permutations where the players operate entirely in a Simulationist mindset (basically exploring whatever is given them) and consider the best runs those which they didn't know that the gamemaster was working entirely towards a story.  That would be Illusionism according to the above description, but mostly because the players habitually ignore 'disillusionment.'

      I personally tend to run what would have to called 'unconscious vanilla Narrativism,' because I spend most of my time skewing everything towards thematic unity (if the theme addresses issues of betrayal, every non-player character and situation is colored in some way that either is affected by betrayal, represents betrayal, of interacts with the betrayal of or by the player characters) that the players are unaware of.  I'm not terribly concerned with where the story is going, concentrating instead on the subconscious cues that the players give for whom they expect the tension spiral to focus on.  I use Dynamic Status Quo and 'Ecological Leveling' (a technique I will be describing sometime in the next few months down in the Scattershot forum) to supply the 'raw materials' that I apply thematic 'charge' to before bringing into play.  The conflicts the player characters address are the players' choices (although not often surprisingly related to their Sine Qua Non or Precipitating Events - sorry, more later on these in the Scattershot forum - that, incidentally, are crafted with thematic bias by the players), I serve the tension spiral and take on the roles of the non-player characters.  The 'plot' is some strange creation of what I see the player's wanting.  (One reason I recognize it as not being Illusionism is my players are familiar with me occasionally stopping and asking where the heck they think the story is going.)

      Quote from: Metal Fatigue
      (And don't tell me I'm a Vanilla Narrativist. My players aren't creating the plot, except by accident.)

      I still think that for it to be 'vanilla Narrativism' the players must 'want' a story as in story-intent.  If they're happy with what appears to be story-result, then it rings very like Illusionism.  (Of course only a participant could render a final judgement, I disqualify my suggestions as an exploration of the diagnostic principles, not as actual diagnosis.)

      Quote from: wfreitag
      I think Metal has good points. To generalize: the main purpose of all the illusions in my illusionary practices is not to deceive players into thinking something is true; it's to avoid unnecessarily reminding them that it isn't. That's a big difference.

      I am highly dubious about trying to find any difference between not "unnecessarily reminding" and 'deceiving.'  Unless you explain it more, these two practices sound completely identical except in the former you are deceiving yourself as well.

      Fang Langford
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      Valamir
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      « Reply #7 on: March 16, 2002, 05:20:58 PM »

      Well I can't be sure Fang, but it seems to me that you are clouding the definition of Narrativism greatly in your quest to define illusionist play.

      If the players are not participating in the creation of the story.  If THEY (not solely the GM) are not making decisions based on focusing the plot on the Premise.  Then it is NOT Narrativism.

      There is nothing I see in Seth's description of play that I'd remotely tie to Narrativism.  GM controling everything is not, and can not be Narrativist.

      The definition of Illusionism to me is simple.  If the players believe that the plot is evolving because of their own actions, but actually their actions are being subtly and cunningly redirected back to the plot envisioned by the GM (at least the main branches of it) then it is Illusionist play.  

      I'm really failing to see how this debate can contine on and on.  Is there an illusion of free will or not?  If the players KNOW they have no free will then there is no illusion and its not illusionist.  If the players actually HAVE free will then there is no illusion and its not illusionist.  I really think this discussion is making the issue far more complex then it needs to be.
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      Le Joueur
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      « Reply #8 on: March 16, 2002, 05:45:26 PM »

      Quote from: Valamir
      If the players are not participating in the creation of the story.  If THEY (not solely the GM) are not making decisions based on focusing the plot on the Premise.  Then it is NOT Narrativism.

      I don't believe participation in story creation is required by Narrativism.  I think the minimum requirement is making decisions 'for story's sake.'  I think it's unfairly limiting to say that Narrativism compels everyone present to participate in story creation.  I think that flies in the face of Ron's statement that you can stay squarely in Actor stance (my-guy mode) most of the time and still be Narrativist.  My understanding of 'vanilla Narrativism' is that the players 'stay away' from this direct participation, but still place importance on story-intent, whether they participate or not.

      Quote from: Valamir
      There is nothing I see in Seth's description of play that I'd remotely tie to Narrativism.

      That's the problem, his description is too limited.  I don't see much of an argument for Illusionism either.  As I said, I can't say what he has based on this little information; I'd probably have to be there.  All I can do is talk about how one concludes what they're doing (using what he has written as the example).

      Quote from: Valamir
      GM controlling everything is not, and can not be Narrativist.

      I can't speak as an expert, but I believe you can be a Narrativist player without ever controlling more than your character (Author and Director stance are not requirements, so I have heard).  If all the players are like that then you have a Narrativist game with complete gamemaster control.  I understand the important aspect is priority on story-intent.

      Quote from: Valamir
      The definition of Illusionism to me is simple.  If the players believe that the plot is evolving because of their own actions, but actually their actions are being subtly and cunningly redirected back to the plot envisioned by the GM (at least the main branches of it) then it is Illusionist play.

      Then we completely agree?  The subtle, cunning redirection is the use of illusions in the service of "redirecting" the plot as envisioned by the gamemaster.  The enforced belief about the plot is what I call Illusionism (as opposed simply any practice of illusion).

      Quote from: Valamir
      I'm really failing to see how this debate can contine on and on.  Is there an illusion of free will or not?  If the players KNOW they have no free will then there is no illusion and its not Illusionist.  If the players actually HAVE free will then there is no illusion and its not Illusionist.  I really think this discussion is making the issue far more complex then it needs to be.

      The complexity introduced in this article involves the 'separation from Narrativism' issue of Illusionism.  I see that separation dependant on 'what the players want' as opposed to 'what the players do.'

      Fang Langford
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      Valamir
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      « Reply #9 on: March 16, 2002, 06:56:15 PM »

      Quote

      Quote from: Valamir wrote:

      If the players are not participating in the creation of the story. If THEY (not solely the GM) are not making decisions based on focusing the plot on the Premise. Then it is NOT Narrativism.


      I don't believe participation in story creation is required by Narrativism. I think the minimum requirement is making decisions 'for story's sake.' I think it's unfairly limiting to say that Narrativism compels everyone present to participate in story creation. I think that flies in the face of Ron's statement that you can stay squarely in Actor stance (my-guy mode) most of the time and still be Narrativist. My understanding of 'vanilla Narrativism' is that the players 'stay away' from this direct participation, but still place importance on story-intent, whether they participate or not.



      I think perhaps you are linking "participating in the creation of story" as requiring Author Stance in an unwarranted manner.  It is entirely possible to participate in the creation of story and remain completely in Actor Stance (although Ron has implied that while the Theory acknowledges this is possible, in practice it is more the exception than the rule).

      But limiting a player's stance to Actor alone, does not prohibit him from participating in the creation of story.  Narrativist play requires that the player make decisions that focus the events on the Premise.  Stances merely determine the scope of game elements over which the player has this decision making power.  

      So.  Participation in creating the story IS required by Narrativism.  It is also NOT prevented by Actor Stance.
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      Le Joueur
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      « Reply #10 on: March 17, 2002, 12:24:43 AM »

      Quote from: Valamir
      Quote from: Le Joueur
      Quote from: Valamir wrote:
      If the players are not participating in the creation of the story. If THEY (not solely the GM) are not making decisions based on focusing the plot on the Premise. Then it is NOT Narrativism.

      I don't believe participation in story creation is required by Narrativism. I think the minimum requirement is making decisions 'for story's sake.'
      [Snip.]
      My understanding of 'vanilla Narrativism' is that the players 'stay away' from this direct participation, but still place importance on story-intent, whether they participate or not.

      I think perhaps you are linking "participating in the creation of story" as requiring Author Stance in an unwarranted manner.  It is entirely possible to participate in the creation of story and remain completely in Actor Stance

      But limiting a player's stance to Actor alone, does not prohibit him from participating in the creation of story.  Narrativist play requires that the player make decisions that focus the events on the Premise.  Stances merely determine the scope of game elements over which the player has this decision making power.  

      So.  Participation in creating the story IS required by Narrativism.  It is also NOT prevented by Actor Stance.

      Then may I ask what we are conflicting on?  (We seem to be in agreement here, 'creating story = Narrativism, actor stance or not.")

      Seth said his players weren't creating story, but I couldn't be sure if he meant overtly, or as you suggest (that's why I said he hadn't given enough information).  This is because he further says that they "create new subplots" (not how or why) but then says that they don't ("except by accident").  This is quite unclear.  Either their decisions affect the story or they don't.  If they do, it clearly isn't purely Illusionism.  Until this is cleared up, there's no way we can tell for certain.

      As for whether it's Narrativism of any kind, that too is unclear.  Seth tells us his players believe they "have a major impact on the plot," but not whether they want to.  If they want to impact the plot, and for the sake of argument we'll say that it's in the name of making statements on the Premise, then they're Narrativists free and clear.  If, despite the apparent "major impact" they don't really care what statement they have on the Premise, then they're not; Seth hasn't really characterized his players priority on plot, story, or Premise, so we simply can't know.

      What I don't understand from your articles is balanced between participation in the story from Actor stance and the gamemaster "controlling everything."  If the players are creating statements on the Premise only from Actor stance, how is the gamemaster not "controlling everything" (else)?  Surely you are not suggesting that a gamemaster who is "controlling everything" is also controlling the participation of the Actor stance players as well?  If you're not then I see a recipe for a Narrativist game where the players are "participating in creation of story" purely in Actor stance and the gamemaster is "controlling everything" at the same time.

      How then is this not Narrativism?  (After all, you said the gamemaster "controlling everything is not, and can not be Narrativist," but if the players remain in Actor stance, isn't he?)

      Fang Langford
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      Fabrice G.
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      « Reply #11 on: March 17, 2002, 04:14:29 AM »

      Hi Fang,


      IMO Illusionism is when the GM tells the players their decisions will have an impact on the game when in fact they don't. The player then have the illusion of participateing in the creation of a story (trough actor stance or via author/director stance is another debate : witch tools work best for the group, its playing style, etc.)

      I think there's something in what Seth said that showthat he is not practicing Illusionism:

      Seth wrote:
      Quote
      I don't think any of my players harbor any mistaken beliefs about the locus of authorial power in my games.



      Quote
      No one's lying to anyone, though.


      Then the players are fully aware that the story is being made by the GM alone (except some rare times). So, if i stand by my comprehension of illusionism, what is practiced can not be illusionism.

      I haveone question for you Seth, when you say:

      Quote
      ... my GMing effort is aimed at preserving the appearance that PC actions have a major impact on the plot, when in fact most of the plot decisions are mine alone.


      Does it mean that you wrap it up in the setting, so as keeping the PC the central character ? Or do you "fool" your players, witch would be at odd with what you said about "no one lying to anyone" ?
      (I need clarification on that one ;)


      Fabrice.
      [/quote]
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      Walt Freitag
      Member

      Posts: 1039


      « Reply #12 on: March 17, 2002, 08:32:15 AM »

      Quote from: Le Joueur

      Quote from: wfreitag
      I think Metal has good points. To generalize: the main purpose of all the illusions in my illusionary practices is not to deceive players into thinking something is true; it's to avoid unnecessarily reminding them that it isn't. That's a big difference.

      I am highly dubious about trying to find any difference between not "unnecessarily reminding" and 'deceiving.'  Unless you explain it more, these two practices sound completely identical except in the former you are deceiving yourself as well.

      Fang Langford


      The difference is huge, so huge that I despair of being able to explain it to you if it's not immediately obvious. Can you see the difference between not telling someone every time you see him that you think he's ugly, and deceiving him that you think he's good-looking?

      Let me start with an analogy that I think is a very close one.

      Disney World's Magic Kingdom deliberately promotes the "illusion" that it is a magical kingdom, when it is in fact an amusement park. It does this primarily by hiding, disguising, or decorating all of the elements people associate with "amusement park-ness," from the huge clanking machinery inside the rides (hidden) to the security guards (disguised) to the trash cans (decorated; that is, disguised as far as possible without impeding their necessary function). A typical amusement park delights in having roller coasters roaring overhead of people who are engaged in other activities; this contributes to an amusement-park atmosphere. The Magic Kingdom avoids this for exactly the same reason.

      Is anyone deceived? That is to say, does anyone present over six years of age not know that The Magic Kingdom is an amusement park? No!

      Do these measures make a difference in the guests' experience? Yes!

      So by the standards of "is anyone really truly fooled," the illusionary elements of the design of The Magic Kingdom do not deceive. That doesn't mean they were ineffective. They obviously do affect the participants' experience. I characterize their utility as "not unnecessarily reminding" the participants of the truth.

      I think the analogy is very close, but I'll go ahead and spell it out anyway. Suppose I run a game in which players do not control the Story. Suppose I use Intuitive Continuity with a heavy reliance on Roads to Rome. I would do this so I could use certain illusion-based techniques. Chief among them in this case would be giving the players free choice of where to travel, but moving elements of the plot into their path no matter where they decide to go.

      Is anyone truly fooled into thinking the players have control over the story? No. Why not? Is it because I make them sign a waiver when they join the game declaring their informed consent on who's going to control the story? No. Why not? Because no one coming into my game ever expects to control the story. They've never played in an RPG where they had any control over the story. They've never heard of RPGs where players have control over the story. I no more need to explain this to them than a car dealer needs to say, "Y'know, just so we're on the same page here, none of these cars can fly," or Disney has to say "Y'know, this isn't really a magical kingdom; if you're coming here to find a fairy godmother who can grant your wishes you'll be disappointed." I don't need to tell them they don't. I certainly don't tell them they do.

      (I DO ask them what games they've played before. If a player told me they'd played Narrativistic game systems then I might have to do the "informed consent" thing. But in the real world they say, "GURPS, Vampire, 3e, D20" and I know I'm in no danger of their having high story-participation expectations.)

      But perhaps I'm so good that the players, in spite of their ingrained initial expecations, come to believe during play that they are controlling the story. Well, I'd be flattered if anyone thought I was that good. And perhaps if I were that good, I'd also be good enough to not inevitably disillusion them later -- or that even if I did, the disillusionment would be no more severe than when you finish a good novel and remember that, after all, it's just a bunch of lies the author made up. Who knows? Who cares? That's a pipe dream.

      Back in reality, if my players aren't really fooled, does that mean my illusionary tactics are a failure? No, no more so than Disney World's "failure" to conceal that it's an amusement park. What I've done is avoided frequently reminding them that they do not control the story, just as Disney World avoids reminding guests that it's an amusement park by concealing the machinery. I do this mainly by getting rid of the most common and overt reminder to players of their lack of story control in RPGs: the dictation of the player-characters' travel by NPCs or other "plot forces." Players have free will to choose their geographical path. This enhances their explorative experience. They know I'm controlling the story; many of them even figure out how I'm doing it. But they don't object because they don't expect otherwise, and I'm doing it in an unusually unobtrusive way. I'm avoiding, to the best of my ability, using game mechanisms or plot mechanisms that require me to say (or behave so as to imply), "You can't do this or that because it would interfere with MY control over the story."

      That's the difference between "not unnecessarily reminding" and "deceiving." Fail to appreciate that difference, and you're throwing out half of what our culture has learned of narrative artifice over the past few thousand years.

      I don't care whether or not the consensual definition of "illusionism" ultimately is chosen to be inclusive of techniques that do not (in the sense of truly fooling) 'deceive.' (Notice that I've avoided the word 'Illusionism' in all previous paragraphs). That's a minor point of terminology. But it must be recognized that illusion, in general, does not have to 'deceive' in that sense in order to serve artistic ends. That's important.

      - Walt
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      Le Joueur
      Member

      Posts: 1367


      WWW
      « Reply #13 on: March 17, 2002, 10:06:45 AM »

      Quote from: wfreitag
      Quote from: Le Joueur
      Quote from: wfreitag
      I think Metal has good points. To generalize: the main purpose of all the illusions in my illusionary practices is not to deceive players into thinking something is true; it's to avoid unnecessarily reminding them that it isn't. That's a big difference.

      I am highly dubious about trying to find any difference between not "unnecessarily reminding" and 'deceiving.'  Unless you explain it more, these two practices sound completely identical except in the former you are deceiving yourself as well.

      The difference is huge, so huge that I despair of being able to explain it to you if it's not immediately obvious. Can you see the difference between not telling someone every time you see him that you think he's ugly, and deceiving him that you think he's good-looking?

      I completely agree with you.  My despair is how you could think that "not telling" him every time is analogous to Illusionism when it isn't; you are not supporting or even using illusion.  When something happens to remind the two of you of the ugliness, instead of you 'doing all the work' and creating an illusion that 'hides' that fact, you both sort of 'look the other way'.  No illusions are created, hence no Illusionism.

      On the other hand, under the deception of "good-looking," you are forced to create illusions to cover the deceipt.  And when those illusions begin to 'fail,' you must create further illusions to hide the illusions.  All this illusion is in the service of deceipt and therefore analogous to Illusionism.

      I am begining to despair explaining the difference between any and all illusions and Illusionism (which is using illusions to cover a deceipt).

      On your analogy:
      Quote from: wfreitag
      Disney World's Magic Kingdom deliberately promotes the "illusion" that it is a magical kingdom, when it is in fact an amusement park. It does this primarily by hiding, disguising, or decorating all of the elements people associate with "amusement park-ness," from the huge clanking machinery inside the rides (hidden) to the security guards (disguised) to the trash cans (decorated; that is, disguised as far as possible without impeding their necessary function). A typical amusement park delights in having roller coasters roaring overhead of people who are engaged in other activities; this contributes to an amusement-park atmosphere. The Magic Kingdom avoids this for exactly the same reason.

      Is anyone deceived? That is to say, does anyone present over six years of age not know that The Magic Kingdom is an amusement park? No!

      Do these measures make a difference in the guests' experience? Yes!

      So by the standards of "is anyone really truly fooled," the illusionary elements of the design of The Magic Kingdom do not deceive. That doesn't mean they were ineffective.

      Effectiveness of illusion is not at issue here.  It has to do with the participation in creating the illusion.  That the park-goers are not fooled does not mean they are subject to Illusionism, by analogy, it means they are given a different 'style of play' than Illusionism.  This bears more on the discussion of Suspension of Disbelief (or whatever you want to call the 'getting caught up in the narrative' mechanism).  Is partaking of the Magic Kingdom willingly more like 'getting caught up in the action' of a movie?  If the Magic Kingdom is Illusionism, then so are movies and anything else you get willingly 'caught up in' and if that's the case the word is totally meaningless in the gaming context because all gaming would be Illusionism.

      Quote from: wfreitag
      I think the analogy is very close, but I'll go ahead and spell it out anyway. Suppose I run a game in which players do not control the Story. Suppose I use Intuitive Continuity with a heavy reliance on Roads to Rome. I would do this so I could use certain illusion-based techniques.
      (How many times must I point out that the presence of illusion alone is not enough for it to be Illusionism?  If it were, all gaming would be Illusionism, as there is the illusion of 'being your character.')
      Chief among them in this case would be giving the players free choice of where to travel, but moving elements of the plot into their path no matter where they decide to go.

      Is anyone truly fooled into thinking the players have control over the story? No. Why not? Is it because I make them sign a waiver when they join the game declaring their informed consent on who's going to control the story? No. Why not? Because no one coming into my game ever expects to control the story. They've never played in an RPG where they had any control over the story. They've never heard of RPGs where players have control over the story. I no more need to explain this to them than a car dealer needs to say, "Y'know, just so we're on the same page here, none of these cars can fly," or Disney has to say "Y'know, this isn't really a magical kingdom; if you're coming here to find a fairy godmother who can grant your wishes you'll be disappointed." I don't need to tell them they don't. I certainly don't tell them they do.

      The exact same argument can be made about the process of playing, being in character, interacting with the world and story (whether you 'control it' or not).  This would be group participation in the 'illusion of play.'  Again, not all incidences of illusion constitute Illusionism.

      Quote from: wfreitag
      Back in reality, if my players aren't really fooled, does that mean my illusionary tactics are a failure?

      Success or failure of an illusions does not make it Illusionism.  I am not describing illusion, I am only describing Illusionism and in that description I do not say that it includes all illusion.

      Quote from: wfreitag
      That's the difference between "not unnecessarily reminding" and "deceiving." Fail to appreciate that difference, and you're throwing out half of what our culture has learned of narrative artifice over the past few thousand years.

      I just don't get what your point is.  If I am "throwing out half of what our culture has learned of narrative artifice," all I am doing is throwing them "out" of Illusionism, (which if I am not mistaken, wasn't where they wanted to be in the first place) back into the "narrative artifice" they have been comfortable with for "the past few thousand years."  This Forge-jargon incarnation of Illusionism is not 'thousands of years old;' it's not even a decade old.

      Why are you, a self-proclaimed representative of "our culture" trying to co-opt a jargon term being refined to make it more useful in the Forge gaming context, into a vague term that will essentially be useless in this venue?

      Quote from: wfreitag
      I don't care whether or not the consensual definition of "illusionism" ultimately is chosen to be inclusive of techniques that do not (in the sense of truly fooling) 'deceive.' (Notice that I've avoided the word 'Illusionism' in all previous paragraphs). That's a minor point of terminology. But it must be recognized that illusion, in general, does not have to 'deceive' in that sense in order to serve artistic ends. That's important.

      Again, how many times do I have to write that I am not in any form conflating all illusions with Illusionism?  Have I not said that only the illusions used for deceipt are Illusionism?

      This has been my point from the begining.  We are agreeing here.  Can you point out the point where you came to mistaken belief that I indicated all illusion was Illusionism, so I can correct it?

      Fang Langford
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      Valamir
      Member

      Posts: 5574


      WWW
      « Reply #14 on: March 17, 2002, 10:49:51 AM »

      Quote

      What I don't understand from your articles is balanced between participation in the story from Actor stance and the gamemaster "controlling everything." If the players are creating statements on the Premise only from Actor stance, how is the gamemaster not "controlling everything" (else)? Surely you are not suggesting that a gamemaster who is "controlling everything" is also controlling the participation of the Actor stance players as well? If you're not then I see a recipe for a Narrativist game where the players are "participating in creation of story" purely in Actor stance and the gamemaster is "controlling everything" at the same time.


      If the players approach the game firmly in Actor stance, then the only aspect of the game they have control over is their characters and their characters decisions.  If they use their characters ability to make decisions to focus on Premise then they can still (with some difficulty) manage to play Narrativistically.  I think in practice, SOME Author stance would grease the process much better.

      However, if the GM is using Illusionism, then he is manipulating the characters decisions so that no matter what they decide it always comes back to what the GM wants (varying by degree of application).

      Thus, in Illusionism we do not have a case where players control their characters and the GM controls everything else.  We have a case where the GM controls everything INCLUDING the players...merely allowing the players to THINK (hense the illusion) that they are in control.  There is no possibility for any form of Narrativism, Vanilla or otherwise, to exist in this sort of situation.

      So no I don't think we're in disagreement about the definition of Illusionism, nor about the style of play being discussed.  I was merely pointing out, that in the course of the discussion, you were using the term Narrativist in a confusing manner.
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