*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
August 01, 2014, 06:28:36 PM

Login with username, password and session length
Forum changes: Editing of posts has been turned off until further notice.
Search:     Advanced search
275647 Posts in 27717 Topics by 4283 Members Latest Member: - otto Most online today: 70 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
Pages: [1]
Print
Author Topic: Emergent Techniques: Sine Qua Non  (Read 8184 times)
Le Joueur
Member

Posts: 1367


WWW
« on: April 28, 2002, 09:47:57 AM »

Once upon a time, I might have tried to parse these techniques on something like a weekly basis, but due to the 'rough cut' nature of what I am now doing, it's going to be much 'clumpy.'  Here goes...

I've spoken of Sine Qua Non before, here, here, and here.  Heck, I even mentioned it in my first post on the Forge.  Herein, I'm going to sketch out what is probably the most important technique in Scattershot.  Feel free to jump in for clarification at any time, I haven't really polished it much yet.

Sine Qua Non is latin and it literally means "without which, not;" the technique used here is an extension of the propriety concept in Scattershot.  Each character, persona or otherwise, in a game has a Sine Qua Non.  ...Hm, this isn't going anywhere; let's just dive right in.

When you make your persona, you need to define their Sine Qua Non.  The simplest method I've come up with when someone is having trouble, I call 'three up, three down.'  List the first three things you want people to remember about your character, then list the last three things you would let anyone forget.   In SMACS (where 'infra-Scattershot' is first described), this gets reduced to five things (see that listing for examples).  Next, if it wasn't in the 3/3, you can list the persona's precipitating event; the thing that happened that defined the characters 'role' (a profile of potential things they will do, often looked at as an archetype), often this is the point where the character initially becomes a persona.

You can also lay out a 'goal' for the persona; this is not a goal that the persona pursues, it's 'what they are for.'  Finally, if you haven't come up with it by now, you need to invent something that 'drives' your character, the 'fire in their belly.'  If you can't make something defining about the character from any of that, and you're still struggling, I suggest introducing a 'mystery.'  This is something that occurs on or just before the beginning of play that your persona, being who they are, cannot avoid looking into/getting 'caught up in.'

As a technique of play the Sine Qua Non is not meant to be an immutable artifice, but a 'living' feature of a character.  Frequently used to aid in character development, it also changes at that time as well (it can be used to chart new directions for the character to move in).  One of the reasons for making Sine Qua Non explicit is how it aids the social contract of gaming.  Along with the Genre Expectations, it is used to determine what or how many rewards are given between sessions and it is at that time it may also be reviewed for pertenancy.

What makes this a really complicated concept is all the different interpretations depending which kinds of play your group prefers. Players of the Joueur, Auteur, Swashbuckler, and the Avatar, have different needs, uses, and relationships to their Sine Qua Non.  It also varies depending on how Self-Conscious the narrative is.  Finally, Sine Qua Non is integral to how the group interacts within the various sharing levels (Self-Sovereign, Referential, or Gamemasterful) and that is also affected by the kinds of play.  I don't really have room here (or the time) to go into the 24 different permutations, so I'll just sketch out the basics.

For those playing the Joueur, the Sine Qua Non often functions as a list of uncompromisable abilities or sometimes an indirect map of what the player wants to engage in for the game.  Things not included in their Sine Qua Non may still be important, but no one can pull a deus ex machina on anything in the Sine Qua Non, rendering it useless.

When playing the Auteur, your Sine Qua Non defines the persona's relationship to the overall narrative.  It also can include what 'stylistic' elements are not to be sacrificed.  It orchestrates the pinnacle of what the player wants in the game (indirectly).  It can even place a 'lein' on how the player wants the game to treat their persona.  Disappointment is the only result of abridging this Sine Qua Non.

Sine Qua Non for one playing the Avatar is about 'protecting' what makes up their character.  The qualities and capacities involved with how they want to play is defined and supported here.  It also indirectly illuminates how the play of the Avatar will proceed.  To violate this Sine Qua Non defeats the point of playing this Avatar.

Playing the Swashbuckler has the Sine Qua Non that establishes 'who they are' in the realm of the game.  It kinda says what they can do and what they're 'supposed to do.'  It functions like niche protection both keeping them able and active in the game.  Violating this quickly turns a persona into a useless or helpless appendage.

Simply?  The Sine Qua Non in a Self-Conscious narrative is, well...Self-Conscious.  For each type of play it serves to reinforce or specify explicit elements of focus for the persona.  (You can imagine it gets much more complicated than that, though.)

I haven't had much time to think out the details, but the Sine Qua Non will describe how to handle conflicts of proprietorship at the various levels sharing in the game.  I hope you get the idea how this would work; I need to revisit this later.

Not only is Sine Qua Non used in concert with the Genre Expectations (for giving the game direction and determining what is deserving of reward), they are themselves pretty much the Sine Qua Non of the game the group wants to play (more on this technique later).

Well that's all for now.  I hope I can clarify anything you don't understand.  Feel free to ask any questions, what you don't understand will help me describe this better later.  I look forward to making this a better more usable description.  I find it most useful (otherwise why design it into a game).

Before I go, on the topic of Transition, you can see many times how what a person puts their persona's Sine Qua Non can give some insight into what types of play they are interested in.  Furthermore, what's missing is important when Transition becomes a play goal; it is the missing that must be fulfilled if Transition will go forth.

Fang Langford
Logged

Fang Langford is the creator of Scattershot presents: Universe 6 - The World of the Modern Fantastic.  Please stop by and help!
Joe Murphy (Broin)
Member

Posts: 178


« Reply #1 on: April 30, 2002, 03:51:55 AM »

Holy mother of god. I think I just felt my mind expand.

I think I understand the Sine Qua Non. But could you run through two characters, from two completely different genres, perhaps even played with each of the Jouer, Avatar, Swashbuckler and Auteur approaches, to give me some more examples to mull over?

I can feel a lightbulb moment coming on.

Joe.
Logged
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
Member

Posts: 10459


« Reply #2 on: April 30, 2002, 07:09:30 AM »

All simply sounds like a framework for group collaboration to provide a Premise (G, N, or S) for play. Which is cool. Goes along with the recent discussions of games that start Premiseless, but in shich premise is defined at the start of play. The only question I have would be to ask if there were any mechanical reinforcement. How does a player who feels that his character's Sine Non Qua have been violated respond? What recourse does he have?

Mike
Logged

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

Posts: 1367


WWW
« Reply #3 on: April 30, 2002, 07:18:19 AM »

Quote from: Joe Murphy (Broin)
Could you run through two characters, from two completely different genres, perhaps even played with each of the Joueur, Avatar, Swashbuckler and Auteur approaches, to give me some more examples to mull over?

Completely different?  Hmm....

Okay.

Ajimiru 'King Blade' for Scattershot presents: Armageddon Engines (a game of giant robot anime)

Three up, three down:
    [*]He's a hotshot 'engine pilot who's never lost a battle.
    [*]He has a tragically scarred, older brother who disappeared in epic battle (and secretly went over to the other side).
    [*]His kitten goes everywhere with him.

    [*]He has the morals of an alley cat.
    [*]Ajimiru is strikingly handsome.
    [*]He's an idealistic 'good guy' out to avenge his brother, regain his family name, and have a rockin' good time.[/list:u]Precipitating Event:
      When his brother 'died,' his family lost face and rumors abound.  He ascended to pilot with little training, a natural, and now seeks to 'settle the score.'[/list:u]Goal:
      The more battles he gets into the closer he'll get to the truth and the harder it'll be to deal with.  This leads up to the ultimate confrontation with his brother.[/list:u]And just for the heck of it, Mystery:
      Involved in the scene of his brother's 'last battle,' Ajimiru discovered this kitten (who doesn't behave entirely like either a kitten or a comic relief).[/list:u]
    Ripjack for Scattershot presents: The Unseen (a "Færies in 'hidden' in the modern world" live-action role-playing game with heavy Scattershot presents: Gothic with a K overtones)

    Three up, three down:
      [*]He's a vampire, easily over three hundred years old.  (This plays into the icky or angsty stuff of 'Gothic with a K.')
      [*]He has a unique 'dark gift' that allows him, progressively, to walk in other peoples dreams, appear out of the corner of peoples' eyes like a mirage, interact with them as though he is where they are like an illusion, and finally perceive and 'fit into' their environment seamlessly.  (Each is successively harder for the victim to tell from reality.)
      [*]He operates under several identities simultaneously using his 'dark gift' to support the illusion.

      [*]He was never anyone famous from history, but does a fair job at passing himself off as them, most notably Jack the Ripper and the Comte de Saint Germaine.
      [*]He has a reputation of disrupting vampire conclaves under the sobriquet 'The Player.'
      [*]He has a psychotic attraction to "messing with other people's stuff."[/list:u]Precipitating Event:
        After 'coming to town' and becoming ingrained in both Unseen 'high society' as Saint Germaine and 'the Gutter Mage scene' as Ripjack, the 'king of the underworld' made him an almost imperceptible slight thus becoming the this cities' primary target for 'the player.'[/list:u]Goal:
        Destruction!  Total destruction!  (Whose?  Either theirs or his.)[/list:u]Mystery:
        Recently, a paranormal investigator who specializes in Jack the Ripper has quietly arrived in town.  One strange coincidence: she's the splitting image of his first and lost love, who was driven mad when she was 'brought over.'[/list:u]

        It's slightly harder to write personae who aren't tilted towards one orientation or another, but let's see what we can do with these two.  (For simplicity's sake, I'm not going to detail the
      Self-Consciousness narrative differences, or what level of sharing is being applied, outside of a few suggestions.)

      Playing the Joueur:
        Ajimiru is a hotshot pilot right?  The first thing that springs to mind is a slowly escalating series of 'engine battles, but let's not discount butting heads with his superiors over his grandstanding tactics or dealing with the loss of his family honor.  Both offer a great deal of intrigue and 'power play' options.

        It almost goes without saying that you could play 'cat and mouse' with appearances of a 'mystery enemy pilot.'  There's also the 'dating game' to be played.  The most important thing to remember when writing up the persona sheet is that he has two deus ex machina (possibly three), his looks and his piloting ability (and possibly some kind of experimental, unapproved 'engine).  I'd suggest playing towards a more Self-Conscious narrative so those Mechanical play battle scenes don't derail an otherwise smooth unconscious game.  Likewise, I'd also be mindful that
      this is anime and ultimately the persona should be beaten down only to rise up just in time to defeat the greatest foe.

      Ripjack has many clear avenues to 'test his mettle.'  There's the courtly intrigues of the 'kingdom of the underworld,' pecking order in the 'gutters,' the overall test of 'ripping' it all down.  He has strengths (his peculiar 'dark gift' is important because it's unique and his ability to maintain a disguise must be good, let's not invalidate either of these) and weaknesses (after all, he is a vampire and let's not forget neither his psychosis, his 'secret identities,' nor his 'dead girlfriend' issues) perfect for this kind of play.  A well orchestrated Dynamic Status Quo is in order, but that's usually taken for granted in a stable, long-term LARP.[/list:u]
      Playing the Swashbuckler:
        From his Sine Qua Non, we can pretty much guess where Ajimiru 'fits in' to the whole military machine and his peer groups.  While the specific details of each engagement are probably not that important, 'feeling out' the enemy purpose is (in a lot of giant robot anime the enemy forces are 'up to something' rather specific).  Likewise, Ajimiru is quite well-suited to the 'new to the scene' quality that can make delving into the intricacies of family honor and military command quite interesting for the player.  In fact his 'hotshot' nature and having never lost offer some interesting possibilities to discover the loss of innocence (if you can steal a little play from the Avatar).

        Ripjack's Sine Qua Non tells us how he's hooked into the social elite at both the top and bottom.  'Romping' around on both fields sounds like a great time (I know, this was primary to why I designed him in the first place, long ago).  Any Unseen game offer myriad avenues to plum and enjoy as well as much danger to 'have fun with.'  Really, live-action role-play seems to lean heavily in the Joueur/Swashbuckler direction because they're so much about interactions.[/list:u]
        Playing the Avatar:
        While it may not initially look like it, there is much grist for the mill in Ajimiru.  Loss of innocence is the top candidate, but let’s not forget falling in love and feeling betrayed.  Finding one's internal value in a world of honor and saving 'face' is always a strong contender here.  While the kitten may seem more like a deus ex machina for the gamemaster, but it allows one to play the Avatar and indulge in interesting soliloquy (one of the chief components of playing the avatar is
      displaying your 'inner demons').  There's lots of emotional hooks just waiting in Ajimiru's Sine Qua Non, friends, family, honor, even a personal enemy among 'the enemy.'

      Ripjack is even worse.  He's an emotional wreck filled with vampire angst (that's the 'Gothic with a K' part) and 'lash-out' psychosis.  I don't really know where to begin addressing the dark, street poet that could be played here.  His basic Sine Qua Non takes on a lot of added detail when you conceptualize it as an Avatar play persona.  There are so many relationships implied and even looking into how the slight set him off become foremost in this play.

      Note, this would be very difficult to play in the more active, cutthroat LARPs I've seen, but there's no reason you couldn't have a more romantic, visuals-based LARP that this Ripjack would be perfectly at home in.[/list:u]
      Playing the Auteur:
        The Sine Qua Non really casts Ajimiru as a persona on the verge of a 'big fall.'  What would really matter would be the orchestration of all the elements and their timing to arrive at the climactic battle at the appropriate time and pace.

        If the group chooses to play a more Self-Conscious, Referential style of play, this player obviously has created many avenues to explore a loss of innocence theme.  He innocently believes that 'family honor' is simply won or lost, he toys with affection unknowing of the emotional affect on others, he has much to learn about losing, and he ideals about his brother are about to come into sharp conflict with reality.  Lent the power of 'exploration of theme' by Self-Conscious play, this character has much potential for creating quite an interesting story on his own.

        Playing Ripjack as the Auteur would be a scream.  The whole thing would revolve around the player conspiring with the gamemaster to create a whole backdrop, perhaps reenacting the killings of Jack the Ripper, only locally.  These kinds of 'behind the scenes' conspiracies would allow Ripjack's player to really impact the overall 'shape' of the LARP, leaving it with an indelible taste (of blood).

        Casting the game into the world of intrigue and betrayal while holding everything to a high stylistic standard are perfectly in keeping with how this Sine Qua Non affects play.  I don't know if I can indicate the thematic (that's little 't' theme) resonance throughout the persona's Sine Qua Non when charged with the 'darkness' brought to the game by the infusion of the monstrous elements of 'Gothic with a K.'  His Sine Qua Non definitely marks out what 'spheres of influence' the player both wants to affect and be affected by.  Letting him cast the characters more 'closely knit' to him would raise this character to its Referential sharing potential (complicated in a LARP, but not impossible).
        [/list:u]

        Well, those are about as completely different of example characters as I think I could come up with.  One the brightly colored paints of anime, the other the muted dark red washes of 'goth-punk.'

        I'm not sure if I am presenting this very well, being so versant with Scattershot terminology is making it difficult to put things clearly without the jargon.  I may have also overlooked justifications for certain concepts that seem obvious to me, so don't be afraid to ask questions.  I'm pretty sure I missed a thing or three.

        Fang Langford
      Logged

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

      Posts: 1367


      WWW
      « Reply #4 on: April 30, 2002, 07:35:01 AM »

      Quote from: Mike Holmes
      All simply sounds like a framework for group collaboration to provide a Premise (G, N, or S) for play. Which is cool. Goes along with the recent discussions of games that start Premiseless, but in which premise is defined at the start of play. The only question I have would be to ask if there were any mechanical reinforcement. How does a player who feels that his character's Sine Non Qua have been violated respond? What recourse does he have?

      There aren't any in the mechanics per se, in terms of the techniques (what most people call rules that aren't so arbitrary in Scattershot) the very fact that a Sine Qua Non is created and shared explicitly is the first part.  So far I haven't come to a conclusion if there's going to need to be any more of the social contract spelled out in the techniques beyond them having a Sine Qua Non and expecting them to go, "Hey, that's my job!"

      That's pretty far up the 'pyramid' of techniques, so I am still open to suggestions.  Do you think I need to spell it out or does 'having' Sine Qua Non represent that well enough?  Make no mistake Sine Qua Non is all about preventing "violation," I just need to know how much you think I need to spell out.

      Fang Langford
      Logged

      Fang Langford is the creator of Scattershot presents: Universe 6 - The World of the Modern Fantastic.  Please stop by and help!
      Mike Holmes
      Acts of Evil Playtesters
      Member

      Posts: 10459


      « Reply #5 on: April 30, 2002, 08:48:47 AM »

      Your system delineates them as well as possible, I think. That's not the problem. But in the modst of play someone is going to make a mistake (we won't even consider the possibility of this happening maliciously, though, any solution that fixes that possibility would be welcome as well). They are going to accidentally trammel another PCs Sine Non Qua. As it stands it seems that the offended player's only recourse is to cry "foul!" Then what? If the players agree that a mistake has been made, then do they reverse the declaration? Or just continue with an admonition not to do it again? And what if they don't agree? Or worse, what if two conditions colide? Is this then adjudicated by the Third Party method that I remember hearing you talk about? What if one player feels that he's being ganged up on?

      I personally feel the need for enumerated procedures, possibly including mechanics that help to prevent such cases from occuring before hand.

      Mike
      Logged

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

      Posts: 1367


      WWW
      « Reply #6 on: April 30, 2002, 08:33:50 PM »

      Quote from: Mike Holmes
      Your system delineates them as well as possible, I think. That's not the problem. But in the midst of play someone is going to make a mistake (we won't even consider the possibility of this happening maliciously, though, any solution that fixes that possibility would be welcome as well). They are going to accidentally trammel another PCs Sine Non Qua. As it stands it seems that the offended player's only recourse is to cry "foul!" Then what? If the players agree that a mistake has been made, then do they reverse the declaration? Or just continue with an admonition not to do it again? And what if they don't agree? Or worse, what if two conditions colide? Is this then adjudicated by the Third Party method that I remember hearing you talk about? What if one player feels that he's being ganged up on?

      I personally feel the need for enumerated procedures, possibly including mechanics that help to prevent such cases from occuring before hand.

      Mechanics sounded like a good idea until I realized that the ends served by them would be heavily skewed based on which approach you take to the game.  For example, the mistakes involved with playing the Joueur are markedly different than those playing the Auteur.  Worse, erring one way could easily be a result of playing more Self-Consciously with the narrative and corrections would destroy that kind of play for those who desire it.  Since the mechanics of Scattershot are meant to apply all the way across the board and this clearly falls under the umbrella of 'staying focused' on a particular form of play, I'm going to have to stick with it being a Technique.

      That being said, you have quite convinced me that even well-seasoned gamers will need Techniques to handle these conflicts, rest assured we will address them in light of your discussion.  Thanks for the insight; I agree this sound most clearly rings through the 'third party referee' stuff as well as the gamemaster stuff.  We must keep in mind how this will apply to the LARP Techniques most assuredly.  Thanks for the direction.

      Unfortunately this is not yet the time to delve into the conflict resolution component for I feel that more of the 'tools' that put the conflict 'into the light' need to be expressed.  The same Techniques that would apply to conflict with someone's Sine Qua Non should apply to conflicting with things like Genre Expectations or the agreed upon approach to play.  Once I address those, and some of the other 'foundational' components of the 'Techniques pyramid,' I plan to carefully address this topic.

      Your input has been very clear and helpful; thank you very much.  I hope to hear from you on other matters involving Scattershot.

      Fang Langford
      Logged

      Fang Langford is the creator of Scattershot presents: Universe 6 - The World of the Modern Fantastic.  Please stop by and help!
      Pages: [1]
      Print
      Jump to:  

      Powered by MySQL Powered by PHP Powered by SMF 1.1.11 | SMF © 2006-2009, Simple Machines LLC
      Oxygen design by Bloc
      Valid XHTML 1.0! Valid CSS!