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Author Topic: Son of Fantasy Heartbreaker  (Read 7657 times)
zaal
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« on: January 21, 2003, 07:20:55 AM »

Ron says:

Quote
It's very, very hard to break out of D&D Fantasy assumptions for many people, and the first step, I think, is to generate the idea that protagonism (for any GNS mode) can mean more than energy and ego.

Would you mind elaborating on this?  What else can protagonism mean?  I probably already know, but can't articulate it.  And, if I don't know, I want to find out!

Jon
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Jack Spencer Jr
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« Reply #1 on: January 21, 2003, 07:51:03 AM »

I found a thread here and here that looks promising. If not, just use the search feature.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #2 on: January 21, 2003, 07:52:03 AM »

Hi there,

This reply is probably going to generate multiple howls of debate, so I offer it up as a sacrificial lamb with large, long-lashed eyes. [Boy, this religion thing is getting out of hand; it's invading my metaphors.]

I'll start by saying that "energy and ego" are probably two parts of the three-part necessary foundation for protagonism, with the third part being the shared, social, and invested attention toward the character from the gaming group as a whole. That third part is what I'll concentrate on below, as it's "what's missing" both from the Heartbreakers and frankly, from a hell of a lot of role-playing and RPG texts in general.

Therefore the following features are not to be understood as personal, internal, isolated things, but rather as things that (a) are experienced, (b) are shared, and (c) receive feedback from others.

I also want to point out that none of these are definitional for the modes. I'm talking about highly-protagonized play within each one.

GAMIST PLAY
Protagonists afford the player a venue for two things: the player's own pluck and strategy.

NARRATIVIST PLAY
Protagonists afford the player a venue for cathartic Premise-answering, which is to say, the production of Theme.

SIMULATIONIST PLAY
Protagonists afford the player ... protagonists. Which is to say, the characters and what happen to them are consistent with the overall Explorative aims of play.

In all of the above, the GM should be considered a co-player with the primary player, relative to the character. I can't imagine a form of functional GMing which fails to reinforce one or some version of these.

Best,
Ron
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zaal
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« Reply #3 on: January 21, 2003, 08:07:22 AM »

Quote from: Jack Spencer Jr
I found a thread here and here that looks promising. If not, just use the search feature.


Ack!  I'll have to remember to search next time, to prevent topic repetition.  :P

Jon
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Paul Czege
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« Reply #4 on: January 21, 2003, 08:24:56 AM »

Hey Jon,

The dissenting opinion is that the whole theory jumped the shark once Ron started extending the definitions of premise and protagonism to simulationism and gamism.

Paul
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #5 on: January 21, 2003, 10:02:09 AM »

Sigh ... and it so happens that "Ron" is reconsidering the Premise side of that particular debate very seriously. "Creative agenda" seems to be a perfectly good term for what I was trying to do with expanding "premise," and that or equivalent terms are what we tend to use during discussions.

I suspect that some folks would balk at restricting the term "protagonist" to Narrativist play.

Best,
Ron
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Valamir
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« Reply #6 on: January 21, 2003, 10:17:48 AM »

I don't know.  

All three GNS modes have a "creative agenda".  For N this takes the form of a Premise.

All three GNS modes have a "main character(s)".  For N this takes the form of a Protagonist.

Seems to make sense.

How valid would it be to refer to the "main character" of S as taking the form of an Avatar...
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #7 on: January 21, 2003, 10:20:10 AM »

Hi Ralph,

That's what I was trying to say - all role-playing requires a participant to have a creative agenda. I tried to use "premise" for this in my essay and it caused multiple confusions. I'm tending to agree with you that the term should be restricted (back) to its Narrativist application.

Best,
Ron
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Valamir
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« Reply #8 on: January 21, 2003, 10:25:41 AM »

Yeah.  The "I don't know" was meant to refer to people balking at restricting protagonist, by demonstrating that it actually makes sense.

I'm with ya.
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zaal
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« Reply #9 on: January 21, 2003, 06:13:58 PM »

All,

I feel the need to apologize for introducing this thread.  When I posted my message, I thought I had an idea of what being a protagonist was but now I'm not so sure.  I'll continue sifting through some of the protagonism posts and try to wrap my mind around the term and its application in gaming.

So while people can continue discussing the implications of Ron's reply to me, I'm going to renege on any claim to "ownership" I might have to this thread.  Frankly, I don't really know what I'm talking about  :)  .

Jon
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #10 on: January 22, 2003, 06:55:36 AM »

Hello,

While Jon sifts and muses, we continue ...

Ralph, although we are in accord regarding "premise," or rather, I have come to agree with your criticisms and am offering the "creative agenda" for the general use-term, I think you're missing my take on the term "protagonist."

At this point, I'm inclined to use the term across all the GNS modes. I imagine this will begin some debate ...

Best,
Ron
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Paul Czege
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« Reply #11 on: January 22, 2003, 10:22:50 AM »

Hey Ron,

At this point, I'm inclined to use the term across all the GNS modes.

I think you're just doing this to get people to argue against it, so you can change your mind and then be able to say your resulting use of the term as specific to narrativism is a response to input. Fine...

Here's the entry on protagonism from A Handbook to Literature, by C. Hugh Holman and William Harmon:

"Protagonist: The chief character in a play, story, or film. The word protagonist was originally applied to the 'first' actor in early Greek drama. The actor was added to the chorus and was its leader; hence, the continuing meaning of protagonist as the 'first' or chief player in drama. In Greek drama an agon is a context. The protagonist, the chief character, and the antagonist, the second most important character, are the contenders in the agon. The protagonist is the leading figure both in terms of importance in the play and in terms of ability to enlist our interest and sympathy, whether the cause is heroic or ignoble...."

That's my underlining. So, what we're talking about is a character whose significance is built upon provoking emotional and intellectual investment in his endeavors and his struggle with antagonistic forces. Now let's quote you:

..."energy and ego" are probably two parts of the three-part necessary foundation for protagonism, with the third part being the shared, social, and invested attention toward the character from the gaming group as a whole. That third part is what I'll concentrate on below....

GAMIST PLAY
Protagonists afford the player a venue for two things: the player's own pluck and strategy.

NARRATIVIST PLAY
Protagonists afford the player a venue for cathartic Premise-answering, which is to say, the production of Theme.

SIMULATIONIST PLAY
Protagonists afford the player ... protagonists. Which is to say, the characters and what happen to them are consistent with the overall Explorative aims of play.


So, answer for me the following:

1. Say I'm sitting across the table from a hypothetical gamist "protagonist," and for the sake of argument that I'm emotionally and intellectually invested in the character's capacity for pluck and strategy. How is that a different thing for me than being responsive as a player to the energy and ego of the other player?

2. Say I'm sitting across the table from a hypothetical simulationist "protagonist," and for the sake of argument that I'm emotionally and intellectually invested in the explorations of that character. What kinds of things could occur to blow my emotional and intellectual investment in that character's explorations that wouldn't at the same time blow my own emotional and intellectual investment in the whole game?

Paul
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And if you're doing anything with your Acts of Evil ashcan license, of course I'm curious and would love to hear about your plans
contracycle
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« Reply #12 on: January 22, 2003, 10:50:39 AM »

Quote from: Paul Czege

So, answer for me the following:

1. Say I'm sitting across the table from a hypothetical gamist "protagonist," and for the sake of argument that I'm emotionally and intellectually invested in the character's capacity for pluck and strategy. How is that a different thing for me than being responsive as a player to the energy and ego of the other player?

2. Say I'm sitting across the table from a hypothetical simulationist "protagonist," and for the sake of argument that I'm emotionally and intellectually invested in the explorations of that character. What kinds of things could occur to blow my emotional and intellectual investment in that character's explorations that wouldn't at the same time blow my own emotional and intellectual investment in the whole game?


Question: surely this function of protagonism is only relevant to the owning player?  At least, I have been thinking of the protagonism of a character as important only inasmuch as it relates to that player; if Bobs character whiffs it doesn't deprotagonise my character, I feel.

Hence, I feel, other players wil always engage with their colleagues energy and ego; but the player must engage with their fictional prersona through protagonism.
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Marco
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« Reply #13 on: January 22, 2003, 11:06:15 AM »

Quote from: Paul Czege
Hey Jon,

The dissenting opinion is that the whole theory jumped the shark once Ron started extending the definitions of premise and protagonism to simulationism and gamism.

Paul


On the other hand, that was where I thought it started working. This may not be a good sign to a lot of people.

-Marco
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John Kim
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« Reply #14 on: January 22, 2003, 12:40:04 PM »

OK,

I'm relatively new here, and I'm rather confused by the whole "protagonism" issue -- especially because of its murky relationship with the protagonist in literary theory.

Now, I have had a number of PCs who I would say were not protagonists -- usually deliberately so.  For example, I conceived of my character Harkel as a foil (i.e. a supporting role) because he was dramatically static, lacking catharsis or conflict.  We were playing in a campaign where all of the PCs were immortals, which was done in episodes which ranged back and forth over centuries.  I came up with the idea of a character who dealt with immortality by closing himself off, by refusing to engage in human relations.  Is he still a "protagonist" in the sense considered here?  

One of the features of most RPGs is that they are ensemble pieces rather than having traditional protagonists.  PCs will vary in how "protagonist-like" they are.  Or at least, that's how I see it.  

Am I missing something?
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- John
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