*
*
Home
Help
Login
Register
Welcome, Guest. Please login or register.
August 07, 2022, 04:37:59 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 4285 Members Latest Member: - Jason DAngelo Most online today: 75 - most online ever: 565 (October 17, 2020, 02:08:06 PM)
Pages: [1] 2 3
Print
Author Topic: Is this really Nar?  (Read 16048 times)
Bankuei
Guest
« on: June 01, 2003, 09:28:01 AM »

Hi folks,

Jason wrote this in the Beeg Horseshoe thread, and I wanted to address his concerns:

Quote
Let's think of a Genevieve example, 'cause the Vieve-ster always has something interesting for me to analyze. For the moment naughty words are on (realism, genre, story, etc), 'cause it'll be what I'm thinking. I'm also not going to bother to introduce any characters, because I suspect I'll be writing a bit of a book anyway. Players are in {}: Genevieve {Jason}.

This all happened during the post game wind-down period - the time after {Al} goes home and everybody else either chit-chats in character or analyses/bitches about the session (dependent upon how well the session went). Nothing too important ever happens, but a lot of character relationships get fleshed out. This particular time something happened. I had fallen asleep on the floor in an awkward position when someone says, "Jason, Luccia {Eric} slept with Caspian {Tara}"..."Oh, shit".

The Vieve-inator and Caspian have had this growing romance. It's been pretty slow, she's pretty closed off, and doesn't much care for being touched. Luccia is the space slut.

Anyway, how we got to this point (As previously stated, my ass was passed out...but this is the tale I got):
Caspian and Luccia being the close buds they are were hanging out. Luccia started to badmouth Gilgamesh {Paul}. {Eric} thought it would be dandy if Luccia's com was bumped so Gil overheard. Gil overhead that, and the beginnings of Luccia turning her closet crush into making incredibly aggressive sexual advances towards dear old Caspian (the jury is still out on whether it was force or not)... Gil is a little shit, but a dear friend of Genevieve, so what does he do... Well, {Paul} decides Gil has to tell someone, but not until later. He'll be busy, everything will get nice and complicated by the time he gets around to spilling the beans...

Ok, now they wake me up.

Now I'm thinking, "Whoa this can go any number of terrible ways. She had just taken what she considered very serious steps towards Caspian. If this had only happened two sessions ago it wouldn't be an issue. Oh well, we're screwed now. It all depends on who tells her and how they do it. All the characters are pretty fond of her, and not of Luccia - so setting her on fire or something would break that. Hmmm...something weak and girly, make 'em feel real bad about it."

{Paul} thought it would be most amusing to tell Genevieve's visiting sister, Luir {Me Again}. Well, shit. Luir doesn't care too much for Luccia, competition for her sister's bright future and all. Guess I'll have her go confront her...Ooooo, I've been waiting for an excuse to make Luir really detest Luccia.

Luir ejects Caspian from the room and the yelling begins. {Eric} says Luccia pulls a weapon (rash and violent she is), so Luir conjures up a sword. The scene degrades into violence as Yama {Eric}, Mercedes {Rene}, and Gil show up on the scene (because the players wanted them to, all specific different motivations I suspect). It finally ends with Dusk {Me, Yet Again} - Luir's familiar, and eye of frost shaped like a girl - freezes most everybody (our little eye-girl has quite the high roll). Now why did I try this, it'd gotten to be a bit of a cluster fuck and Luccia had sucked some life out of Luir. Well, Luir and Dusk are linked - hurt one you hurt the other. 'K, perfectly good motivation to try to end this conflict now before a character actually gets nigh-killed and the focus of the story changes over to the conflict with Luir/Luccia. Let's get back on track. Genevieve has the problem here. This other thing is getting messy.

Heh. There is a little OOC talk about what happened, {Eric} says something about how it was all Luir's fault... Player conflict, hold on.

Eric: "But, she had a sword. Luccia was just defending herself."
Me: "Well, she wouldn't have had a sword if you hadn't brought out the cyber-weapons. Besides, she only threatened you with it. You sucked the life out of her. Succubus."
Eric: "But, I didn't draw a weapon."
Me "Yes, you did nancy-pants. You said it very clearly without stuttering."
Paul: "He's right you did say that."
Tara: "Yeah, but he took it back."
Eric: "Yeah, I took it back."
Me: "You did what?"
Rene: "You didn't take it back."
Me: "Err...fine, what do you want to have happened?"
Eric: "She didn't draw the arm blades."
Me: "'K, no sword then."
Eric: "Then no life drain. And Yama only attacked because Luir had a sword."
Me: "Then no fight; therefore no Yama, Mercedes, or Gil; therefore no being frozen."
Everyone Else: "Then what happens?"
Me: "Well, I guess she yells at her and leaves. No one else is involved."
Everyone Else: "That sucks."

I'm not certain exactly how many of these conversations I've had with {Eric}, but this certainly wasn't the first. What the hell {Eric} was thinking. I have no idea. I was thinking: "Grr...smashy smash, damn you {Eric}, make up your frickin' mind. It doesn't fit for Luir to be randomly violent and I don't want to screw up any of the character's relationships with her family. I guess we'll have to change what happened."

Back to the story. I think {Tara} had Caspian run off and hide...I can't quite recall. Anyway, Luir talks to Gil and decides she's going to go tell Genevieve right now. Tara was going to have Caspian tell her himself, but there was some reason why she didn't...Grr, damned memory. Anyway, Luir breaks the news and Genevieve teleports home in the middle of the night. Heh, bite me party format - I just went to a different planet.

This was the big important decision. Why did I make it? First off it would make for some damned interesting reactions in the morning. Second, it was one of the options of things she would do. The only other option that seems to fit at this point in her life was going into a blind rage and stabbing Luccia with a broken mirror. I decided Luir broke the news in a fashion that led her to flight instead of fight... It kept Luccia the bad guy, and seemed like the most interesting.

The next morning, through a series of conversations some of the crew finds out what happened and that Genevieve is missing. Jeremiah {Tara} (the starship's pilot) promptly blinks to Mooravia (not the one on Earth, Genevieve's home world) - no discussion, no warning, just "We're leaving, you're in deep shit Luccia".

They found Genevieve in the consoling company of her family. Jeremiah and Jet {Rene} go to see how she is doing - Jeremiah and Jet both get along really well with the royal family. Some time passes, the character's talk amongst themselves - deciding what to do; wondering what's going on; trying to figure out how to keep the whole thing a secret from Genevieve's crazy, man-hating, arch-mage, grandmother lest she kill Caspian; etc.

At some point Luccia realizes she fucked everything up righteously. How do we fix it? Why, we try to enlist Gil's aid and conjure up a favor from the god of thought, so they all like me again. Heh, there is very little Genevieve hates more than having her mind toyed with. She figures out that she's been charmed, has it fixed, but doesn't find out who did it. These decisions were based on pissing her off even more, but not to the set Luccia on fire point. I didn't want her to find out because that would completely trash her relationship with Gil. Jet catches her during the midst of this and decides to give her a note from Luccia and some snotty comments. They don't get along so well after that.

'K, so I could type out all the little details, but they aren't decision points and I've babbled enough already.

The next important point is when Genevieve decides she's going to stay behind. This decision causes a bit of a chain reaction in later sessions. Evil plans already brewing in my head. I made it because Genevieve didn't really provide me with any other options, besides it was incredibly dramatic. If she just got back on the ship the punch of the whole sequence would have been lost. It would also have felt terribly contrived. Everyone gets on the ship and leaves. Everyone except Genevieve, Luir, and Zel {Yes, Me Again} (Genevieve's brother). Luir stayed because she had to tend to her sister's first love-affair disaster. Zel stayed for two reasons, he worships his sister and discord was growing between him and Jeremiah over Jet. I decided to make Luir stay because I didn't have another option that fit the character. I decided to make Zel stay because I was preparing for the next phase in his personal story. I was also going to trade him out later for one of Genevieve's other brothers.

I could keep going on this particular chain of events, but that's the end of the session.

******

Well, Sim? Nar? or Neither? I'm voting for Hi-Fi|Story Now, but you already knew that.

My stance is: This isn't Nar because at no point do I give a crap about the moral or ethical implications. This isn't Sim because I have an overt metagame agenda in many of my decisions that isn't verisimilitude, but is instead 'most interesting story.'


Ok, complicated, niggling details of exactly who did what to who aside, let's step back and look at the big picture:

This game is about rivalries(social, romantic, whatever).

Ok, got that.  What is happening in play, is that various players are choosing to make decisions either "because that's what this guy would do", or because "it seems like it would be interesting".  Check.

So what's going on here?  We've got a variety of players, making decisions in a variety of stances, to facilitate the shit storm of drama between the various characters.  How does this translate to morality?  "What is the right thing to do in X situation?" is a moral statement.  Player decision to "set up" situations that result in those kinds of decisions is a Nar decision.

Look at what's going on in play here!  We've got people pulling weapons on each other, confrontations, conflicting, manipulating each other for their goals.  At each point the players are making decisions as to "How far will my character go?  What is right?" mixed in with "how my character thinks", etc.  Every choice along these lines is a moral statement!  Lying, cheating, romance, this is ethical decisions all over!  Choosing to hurt someone, choosing to confront someone, choosing to run away!  All the choices that facilitate, or push characters to making those decisions are also Nar choices.

"Whoa, I didn't think about that before or during play!"
You don't need to.  This is Vanilla Narrativism.  Pretty much everybody on Earth gets a good feel for stories, pacing, and narrative "interest" by the time they're 6 or 7.  We are inundated with stories, from religions, explainations of how the world works, commercials, tv, movies, songs, etc.    

Characters choosing to do X or Y based on personality and circumstance is a moral decision.  What seperates this from Sim?  Players are actively pushing the characters to make those decisions, not based solely on in character knowledge, but are utilizing all 3 stances.  I'd say that its really hard to pull of Nar in "just" Actor stance, but that its possible with a Nar oriented GM.  Nonetheless, in this example, we have players clearly making decisions on more than "what my guy would do", with Director stance stuff("Oops, bumped the comm system", etc.) going on.

Jason, does that clarify "What is Nar?" a bit better for you?

Chris
Logged
Jason Lee
Member

Posts: 729


« Reply #1 on: June 01, 2003, 09:50:09 AM »

Heh, I was just posting the split in response to M.J. post...You beat me to it.

Quote from: Bankuei
Jason, does that clarify "What is Nar?" a bit better for you?


Yes, actually it does.  You've just answered my main question.  Is it Nar if I didn't mean to?

Both you and M.J. are saying very similar and very convincing things.  After your post I think I only have one question...let me hurl up my response to M.J., the question is at the end.
Logged

- Cruciel
Jason Lee
Member

Posts: 729


« Reply #2 on: June 01, 2003, 09:53:10 AM »

Quote from: M.J. Young
Jason, I couldn't say for certain whether you're involved in simulationist or narrativist play; but I think your objection to narrativism is dissolving before my eyes. You say that it's not narrativist because it does not address a moral or ethical issue. I read over the entire story, and I see a story that is inherently about love, betrayal, and jealousy. How are these not moral/ethical issues? Clearly the questions raised are whether Genevieve had any right to expect Caspian to resist the wiles of Luccia given the state of their relationship, or conversely had any right to expect Luccia to respect Genevieve's interests there. Genevieve is acting in a way that says she expected them to treat her better, that what they did was unfair and personally insulting and offensive to her--and that's a moral position. Luccia is obviously acting in a manner that says she doesn't think she owes squat to Genevieve's interests, and can sleep with anyone she wants without regard for friendship--and that's a moral issue. Caspian's actions are a little less clear at this point. We can't be sure whether he thinks Genevieve has overreacted to him having a one-nighter with Luccia when any relationship he had with Genevieve was so tenuous, or whether he thinks he really messed up something wonderful that might have happened with Genevieve by allowing Luccia to seduce him--but either way, these are moral and ethical issues, matters about whether he has obligations to others and whether they have obligations to him. The whole story screams moral issue; it begs to have people decide whether the characters are treating each other well or poorly, fairly or despicably. There are certainly moral and ethical issues at the very heart of this story, and both the players and the characters appear to be exploring them.

Now, I think it's possible to "explore moral issues" in a totally removed fashion, in which case it would become sim. I can imagine some conservative moralist reading the latest pulp romances or viewing the latest popular films strictly to see what sort of morals are conveyed so he can decry them, without ever becoming intellectually involved in the books or the issues they actually do raise. So you might be doing a simulationist exploration of these issues. I don't think you are. I think you're doing narrativism. Yes, you ask what is realistic for your characters to do; but that's not counter to narrativism. I don't feel that at any point you chose things solely because they were the most likely thing for any character to do. You considered all the things your character might do, which were both possible within the setting and plausible given the characterization of that individual, and then chose the one you wanted to have happen for reasons which advanced the story and best addressed the core issues of love, betrayal, and jealousy.

So if this is your example of something that's not narrativist because it doesn't address a moral or ethical issue, I think your concepts of moral and ethical don't match those intended by the theory. Did I miss something?


Now, that I could buy.
It could very well be my contention/confusion/whatever is in fact a misunderstanding of literary theory.

*****

There are a few things I left out that I think actually support both your and Chris's point. Some were left out for brevity, but some were left out 'cause I just forgot about them.

Quote
Genevieve is acting in a way that says she expected them to treat her better, that what they did was unfair and personally insulting and offensive to her--and that's a moral position.


Not two days (in game) before this Genevieve had went through the effort of spilling her feelings and desire for committement to Caspian out onto paper after a failure to convey them adequately in words.  The letter also included a brief coverage of what amounted to 'Luccia's got her eye on you, don't fuck up'.  Caspain had just learned to read (he was still working on it), but he got the point.

Genevieve also happens to be a pseudo-virgin rape survivor.  Trust is a very important factor in her sexuality.

Quote
Luccia is obviously acting in a manner that says she doesn't think she owes squat to Genevieve's interests, and can sleep with anyone she wants without regard for friendship--and that's a moral issue.


Previous to this incident Genevieve was one of the very small selection of characters on the ship that Luccia was actually friends with.  The loss of this friendship, and Luccia's generally tendency to screw up relationships, continued to be a recurring theme in sessions to follow.

Also, Luccia is a bred soldier - no experience in matters of love or even what that means.

Quote
Caspian's actions are a little less clear at this point. We can't be sure whether he thinks Genevieve has overreacted to him having a one-nighter with Luccia when any relationship he had with Genevieve was so tenuous, or whether he thinks he really messed up something wonderful that might have happened with Genevieve by allowing Luccia to seduce him--but either way, these are moral and ethical issues, matters about whether he has obligations to others and whether they have obligations to him.


Ah, yes Caspian.  Because of the aforementioned letter Caspain was well aware that he should not do what he did.  

But, he comes from what is best described as very primitive, native american, wolf-pack.  His cultural background is very non-monogamous, and about as sexually un-repressed as you can get and still have a working society.  So, he knows Genevieve doesn't approve, but fails to understand why.

The part I forgot (and I have no idea how this slipped my mind) was that Caspian was also one of the people left behind on Mooravia.  Jeremiah never liked the boy.  He kicked Caspian off the ship with a "Fix what you did, shit head."  Jeremiah figured either he made Genevieve de-miserable or he starved to death from lack of love (like an abused dog)...either way problem solved.  Luir put Caspain up at her cousin's house. Over the next few months Caspian and Genevieve worked the issue out...but, that's another story.


*****

So, in addition to what was mentioned before all of these things were also colliding.  Which seems very much to support your conclusion of a moral agenda.  But, I still can't figure our whether it's Sim or Nar

In this example the moral theme springs from a player desire for interesting story and from strict adherance to the motives of the characters (what was knocking around in my head).  However, I don't think I ever set out to specifically address what the theme became (love, betrayal, jealousy, and a few others).  Looking back (with help from M.J.) I can see a moral theme, but the theme could just have easily have been about crimes of passion and family loyalty instead.  Because I made the choice to keep Genevieve and her family's relationship with the rest of the crew positive, and also made the choice to adhere to her personality, that created the theme.  Can it be said that I addressed the moral agenda or that the moral agenda simply occurred?  If it simply occurred, can it still be Nar?  How can you be prioritizing something you didn't do on purpose?
Logged

- Cruciel
Jason Lee
Member

Posts: 729


« Reply #3 on: June 01, 2003, 09:59:37 AM »

Ok, Chris...

You've just gone and cleared up pretty much every question at the end of the post, except one thing still doesn't make sense to me:

How can you be prioritizing something you didn't do on purpose?
Logged

- Cruciel
Bankuei
Guest
« Reply #4 on: June 01, 2003, 10:19:23 AM »

Hi Jason,

Glad things are clearing up here...

Quote
Because I made the choice to keep Genevieve and her family's relationship with the rest of the crew positive, and also made the choice to adhere to her personality, that created the theme. Can it be said that I addressed the moral agenda or that the moral agenda simply occurred? If it simply occurred, can it still be Nar? How can you be prioritizing something you didn't do on purpose?


Let's look at it like this, there's no way for moral agenda to "simply occur".  To use an analogy(is it Walt's?), there's a difference between a story, a basket ball game, and a list of events.  The first one has obvious Premise going on.  The second one is a set of outcomes that get interpreted into a Premise("The real story is Joe Veteran's surprise comeback in the 3rd quarter!") and finally, A, B, and C happened, such as a straight listing of historical events without motivations being inferred.

In the first case, Premise is being made, intentionally, or unintentionally by the author.  In the second case, Premise is being made by reinterpretation of the events(again, the reinterpretation is no accident), and finally, the last part is not given any kind of moral interpretation at all.

Morality is a human issue.  Rubber balls and wooden blocks do not inherently have moral issues("Clearly by the existance of the wooden block, one is inclined to question the morality of capital punishment in the face of an atheistic universe!")  Only human interpretation causes moral theme or premise to happen.  So premise can only come from you and your group, intentionally or not.

How does this happen unintentionally?  People do things unintentionally all the time.  To give you an example from your game, each player models it everytime they say, "What would my guy do?".  Each player doesn't just take into account what would be "conscious" in the characters' heads, but also the unconscious.  Everytime someone takes into account the social programming of Caspian, based on his culture, every time someone takes into account Genevievve's rape issues, we're talking things that the characters wouldn't consciously be thinking about.

Stepping out of the game, each player is coming to the table with social programming and conditioned habits about "how to play", "how to interact with people" "what is fun" and a slew of other things that go into play.  When you mix them together, you get players who unconciously lean towards certain GNS behaviors.  

This is the reason that GNS never goes into motivation and intention with GNS.  I'm sure that they're there, there's just no observable way to confirm it.  What a player "thinks " they want, what they say they want, and what actually comes out in play often differ.  Its completely possible to play Narrativism, or any of the modes without any sort of induction into it.  That's also the reason some folks are surprised when Ron goes, "There, that's Narrativism, you've been doing it all along".

Chris
Logged
jdagna
Member

Posts: 563


WWW
« Reply #5 on: June 01, 2003, 12:51:33 PM »

I'm still not convinced this is necessarily Nar play.  Author-stance Sim, used to maximize conflict within the character's confines still seems to be a good fit (especially in light of the subjective information we get).  I already went through that argument in the original thread, so I won't repeat it.

Let's look at it from another way.  If this is an example of Nar play, how would you expect it to differ if had been Sim?
Logged

Justin Dagna
President, Technicraft Design.  Creator, Pax Draconis
http://www.paxdraconis.com
Jason Lee
Member

Posts: 729


« Reply #6 on: June 01, 2003, 12:55:00 PM »

Chris,

Something is clicking here...

As M.J. said maybe I'm reading something into moral/ethical question the theory didn't want me to.

If I take 'story addressing a moral or ethical question' and swap it out with 'story that relates to how people think, feel, and what they believe' it works for me.  Theme is all of a sudden a lot broader in my mind (whether or not there is actually any technical difference between those two statements).

I guess one thing that I may be bringing to the table here is that a moral/ethical question implies, well, an answer - the question being something the player intentionally asked.  But, if moral/ethical question is 'this play creates a moral/ethical question', not 'this play answers (from a certain PoV) a moral/ethical question', then it just seems a lot less restrictive in my mind.

But, as you've mostly helpfully said a few times - it needn't be intentional.  If you don't hear the question, you can't answer it; but I'm getting the impression that's OK.  It can still be Nar and fall on deaf ears.

This makes me ask the question of how Sim|Explore:Char and Nar|Explore:Char can possibly be seperate entities, other than perhaps their committement to Fidelity.  No matter what, the player is going to be bringing statements about how people feel and what they believe into the actions of the character.  Even unwavering Actor stance adherance to the character's personality is going to bring at least an unintentional theme into the character's actions.  I suppose that you could avoid a theme by never having conflict, but then you'd have a whole lot of nothing happening - you wouldn't really be playing.

Which brings me back to Horseshoe 2 (I guess it's a square).  If all this fits then it seems like just more reasons that support the Square Horseshoe Theory.
Logged

- Cruciel
Jason Lee
Member

Posts: 729


« Reply #7 on: June 01, 2003, 01:08:29 PM »

Geez, I seem to be having a major problem distiguishing between the Preview and Submit buttons today.

Anyway...

To me, the grey area of Sim|Explore:Char / Nar|Explore:Char maps more concisely to Hi-Fi|Theme than the existing pile of jargon that includes Nar/Sim Hybrid, Nar/Sim Congruent, Abashed Nar/Sim, El Dorado, Vanilla Narrativism, and whatever else I'm missing (or may not entirely understand).

The intentional/unintentional mix up may also clear up my problem with where comedic decisions fall.  If players can unintentionally address a theme, then they can be motivated solely by thinking of something wacky to say and still have it come out like the Simpsons (which has theme ahoy!).  If the comedic decision doesn't create a theme or isn't a humorous solution to a challenge I'm still confused as to where to put in the GNS model.

However, I'm not confused as to where to put it in the Square Horseshoe Theory (I think I'm going to call it that until Mike names it) - at the mid/neutral point on the Conflict axis.

So, am I off base here or does this all fit?
Logged

- Cruciel
Jason Lee
Member

Posts: 729


« Reply #8 on: June 01, 2003, 01:28:08 PM »

Quote from: jdagna
I'm still not convinced this is necessarily Nar play.  Author-stance Sim, used to maximize conflict within the character's confines still seems to be a good fit (especially in light of the subjective information we get).  I already went through that argument in the original thread, so I won't repeat it.


Aye, sorry I didn't get back to that.  Here, I'll repeat it for you (so everything is in the same place):

Quote from: jdagna
I think I'm mostly in agreement with you, except I do think it's Sim.  In fact, about halfway through the story, I was thinking "Wait, this is just Author-stance Sim."
 
 And I don't think Author stance is necessarily in conflict with Sim play.  Here's why: almost every single D&D character reaches a point where he's so rich, he could buy a kingdom and retire.  But instead he seeks out the tomb of so-and-so for another boatload of treasure and weapons, despite the obvious risk.
 
 Now, Gam and Nar players don't have a problem with this.  Certain characters would make this choice even in Actor-stance Sim.  But a significant number of players choose to take the adventure, even though it doesn't entirely fit with their the only time I've ever seen a player retire such a character was when he wanted someting new to play with.
 
 In other words, most Sim players are using Author stance to motivate their characters to continue adventuring.  Why? Because it's more fun than role-playing tax collection from the serfs and players want to have fun.  And the choice to retire the character is often an Author-stance Sim decision.  It can make sense for the character, but needs the player's impetus.
 
 In your case, your desire for fun and drama was shaping the character's actions.  There was still a clear commitment to the character, and some reliance on Actor stance, but you knew that by encouraging certain reactions you could get the most drama rom the situation.  Of course, in this case, you were controlling multiple characters and it's almost impossible to operate strictly in Author stance with multiple characters (in my experience).


I'm in agreement with you on the stance thing.  As for the rest, your new question is a good one:

Quote from: jdagna
Let's look at it from another way.  If this is an example of Nar play, how would you expect it to differ if had been Sim?


I'm not sure how it would differ - I thought it was more Sim-like to begin with.

Your question makes me think of another one to add to the pile:  How much Nar do you have to have before it is technically Nar?  If you can identify more Sim decisions than Nar decisions is it still Nar?  But, that may already be answered by the post-play theme - if it's there then it's Nar, right?
Logged

- Cruciel
M. J. Young
Member

Posts: 2198


WWW
« Reply #9 on: June 01, 2003, 01:53:36 PM »

I feel like I've been a tremendous influence on a thread to which I've not posted; I have to rectify that.

Sometimes I go bowling. I'm a terrible bowler, and sometimes I play with people who are really quite good. That means I don't ever expect to win. However, I still play to win; the object of the game is still gamist, an effort to do your best and show that you can do it, even if the stated object is to score more points than anyone else, which I know to be unachievable for me in that situation.

In the same sense, people playing D&D often think they're creating stories when they're actually following the game's rather gamist priorities, playing to win. Not all are doing that, but many are.

Aesop told fables, and they all ended with, the moral of the story is.... Authors never do that today; it's too trite. Yet they still write stories that have morals, and we as readers still discover those morals from reading.

Sorcerer is rightly hailed as a powerfully narrativist game which explores the question "what would you do for what you want". Now, let's suppose that we got someone interested in playing this game, but we didn't tell them that part. Instead we created characters, kickers, relationship maps--all the stuff that's needed to get started. Let's suppose our players now how to roleplay; they've played D&D, maybe V:tM, something else. They start playing Sorcerer, and they quickly start trying to get "what they want", and just as quickly start building up the humanity problems, the whole mess of Sorcerer mechanics that influence play. Before you know it, they're creating a story which is about "what would you do for what you want", without ever having really asked the question.

You didn't consciously ask the questions you addressed; but you specifically answered them through your character actions. Genevieve clearly declared to Luccia and Caspian that they hurt her, that they treated her in a manner that was unfair, unethical, immoral--entirely inappropriate for people who supposedly are in relationships, because relationships inherently contain obligations, and those obligations are themselves moral, such that observing them or violating them is a moral issue. So in a sense you did ask the question, and you did approach it--you just did it at a level below consciousness.

Tolkien's Rings raises many moral, ethical, and spiritual issues, and provides answers to them. From what's been said about his approach, he probably didn't once ask himself how he could bring these issues into focus in his story. He wrote the story, and let the issues emerge. In fact, he started writing before he knew where he was going with it, and the epic story developed in his mind after he had begun.

In much the same way, you're attracted automatically to what interests you; what interests you are moral and ethical questions, but you don't label them that way. You aren't exploring them through some philosophical treatise which keeps them at arm's length at all times; you're using story to become involved with them.

I don't know what you're doing between the issues, as it were (although I suspect the issues overlap and intertwine, as all great stories do). Some time back, John Kim described a game he was running for kids, and the way in which moral stories arose during play. I suggested at that time that he was running a game that ran as simulationism between the stories, but that when something latched onto the group they shifted to narrativism, and the game followed them. I see that kind of play in Multiverser quite a bit, as some players move between modes in response to what kinds of elements are available to explore. On the other hand, you could be playing narrativist all the time. (One telling factor to that would be, if there aren't any such issue stories happening, do you sort of fast forward to the beginning of the next one or launch a new complication to make the story "interesting", or do you play the mundane events as enjoyably and rigorously until something else begins?)

So yes, people have metagame priorities and bring them into play all the time without recognizing them; in fact, I'd say that most people most of the time fail to recognize their own metagame priorities--that's the entire point and function of GNS, that people have these priorities and use them and even fight over them, without ever realizing that they're there. It's when we stop and recognize that we're not getting along because one person wants challenge and victory, another wants realistic flow of events, and a third wants great engaging issue-centered stories, that we can begin to understand why we're fighting.

Make sense?

--M. J. Young
Logged

M. J. Young
Member

Posts: 2198


WWW
« Reply #10 on: June 01, 2003, 02:26:55 PM »

Somehow I managed to write that last post and put it in preview mode, and then just left it there for an hour or so while I looked at other posts. Thus people have added to the thread in my absence.

The most interesting addition is perhaps
Quote from: what Justin Dagna
If this is an example of Nar play, how would you expect it to differ if had been Sim?

I probably should give this more thought than I'm going to right now, but as I seem to be emerging as the defender of simulationism as its own metagame priority, I'm going to attempt to address it.

At several points in the story, players looked at what was possible for their characters to do, and chose something that fit within the characterization of that individual and the physical realities of the world. They did not always choose that action which was the most likely for their character to pursue; nor did they in general consider which was the most likely answer even when that was what they chose. They made choices which were realistic from both character and world perspectives, but based on a desire to enhance story and address theme.

Some of it would have played the same way; this is inevitable, because there is frequently coherence among modes. I've latched onto someone's "end of the world scenario" point, that in that case it doesn't much matter whether you're narrativist, gamist, or simulationist, you're going to do the very best you can to save the world, because that's the only thing that makes sense for any set of player priorities, and you're probably going to pursue much the same course of action to do it, because most likely the situation is going to offer only one solution (whether it's LotR throw the ring in Mount Doom or Armageddon go blow up the asteroid).

Way back on Gaming Outpost when this was first being debated, Ron fired off his famous When the Rubber Meets the Road post. Here he defined three situations (immortalized as questions two, three, and four on my http://www.mjyoung.net/rpg/gametype.html">Gamers Preferences Quiz) which would tend to sort out what your GNS preference was. Part of the implication of that was that players with different goals could play together unconflicted for quite some time without ever hitting the moment where there goals prioritized different choices in play. Often, "doing what my character would really do", "doing that which best addresses what this story is about", and even "doing what advances my position in the game" will be the same thing. It's only when it isn't that GNS matters; and then, it's only when it isn't the same thing and players are going different directions because of it that it becomes a problem. This is when you have the conflict between the guy who does what he thinks his character would do, the guy who does what he thinks makes a good story, and the guy who is trying to win.


So there would be differences, but a lot of it would be the same.

Does that help?

Footnote: I don't think that sim exploration of character means the character is static; I do think that sim character requires a much clearer examination of why and how the character is changing than nar character. In the latter, a sudden repentance at a critical juncture can be an extremely compelling story event; in the former, you've got to see a solid reason why such a complete change of core thinking would happen at this moment, or you can't have it. Clear?

--M. J. Young
Logged

Bankuei
Guest
« Reply #11 on: June 01, 2003, 03:37:14 PM »

Hi folks,

Just have to chime in and say MJ hits a lot of points on this thread.  

Justin-

Consider this:  

Explicitly stated by Jason is player decisions that are not based on character decisions, or simulation of X.   I'm not sure what rules or system he's running with, but the "comm system" example is rather a perfect example. It was a conscious decision of a player to institute the accidental eavesdropping, without any sort of "Roll % for accidentally leaving your radio on", or any such thing.  I also don't think that such a thing would be genre expected, unless perhaps they're pulling out some sort of SOAP-like game.  

At least twice, player decisions are heavily influenced on what would set up a strong twist or "Bang" in terms of driving conflict and confrontation, the sorts of things where character actions become those Thematic statements.

If we were going to take raw Sim play, the exploration would have been the focus.  In this case, the major focus for player decisions is going to be "Does this fit my character + Does this fit the genre expectations/plausibility?"  Instead we have "Does this fit my character + Is it interesting?"

I'd say all of our Sim/Nar questions evaporate in the face of Big Horseshoe 2.  We've got High Fidelity/Nar play going on strong.  My view, I go with Big Horseshoe and all the ugly "Where's the Sim/Nar boundary?" questions disappear.

Chris
Logged
talysman
Member

Posts: 675


WWW
« Reply #12 on: June 01, 2003, 05:12:24 PM »

Quote from: cruciel
This makes me ask the question of how Sim|Explore:Char and Nar|Explore:Char can possibly be seperate entities, other than perhaps their committement to Fidelity.  No matter what, the player is going to be bringing statements about how people feel and what they believe into the actions of the character.


I think Sim with emphasis on Char is going to seem Nar if you bring "statements about how people feel and what they believe" into the Nar definition. but I think that's the wrong approach. what makes a Nar game Nar is the players make important moral decisions. they may define their characters in such a way that the character never realizes where the road they are taking is really heading.

the classic example, which I think Ron offered once as an explanation, is a Sim paladin versus a Nar paladin. the Sim paladin does good things because that's how you play a paladin if you are faithful to the paladin's concept (Fidelity to Character). the Nar paladin will be faced with a choice where doing good may involve violating the paladin's oath.

Narrativism is moral conflict. which will you choose: murder to protect your homeland, or diplomacy that could get you killed? increase profits at any cost, or lose your business because you won't bulldoze that housing development? it's not about how the character feels at all: the character's feelings and beliefs are the Sim part, not the Nar part.

one of the other comments in this thread was about how moral and ethical questions imply an answer. you may be thinking about a moral or ethical
code, which is indeed an answered offered to moral questions. Nar play does imply that there will be an answer, but the total actions of the character are, in fact, one such answer that a player offers; beyond that, there is no attempt to codify which answer is right.

I think one of the problems with the Beeg Horseshoe is that it seems to make the terminology easier to understand, but just leads into the same traps of misunderstanding that have arisen before. unless we can somehow emphasize that the Conflict axis (Challenge/Theme) is about conflict on a metagame level that is reflected in-game only incidentally, we'll get all the same "is Narrativism really a seperate mode?" and "is Simulationism really a seperate mode?" questions that we've already seen.
Logged

John Laviolette
(aka Talysman the Ur-Beatle)
rpg projects: http://www.globalsurrealism.com/rpg
Jason Lee
Member

Posts: 729


« Reply #13 on: June 01, 2003, 05:13:30 PM »

M.J., Chris,

Makes sense.  If I'm digesting everything correctly I'm in agreement that the overall play was indeed Nar.

The question is was my play Nar...I think yes, which brings me to Justin's question...

I think why this example gets so Sim/Nar fuzzy is because of the multiple characters.

In the game this example is drawn from I've noticed these weird definitions for character.  You don't have PC's (protagonists), NPC's (supporting cast), GMC's (GM controlled protagonists/antagonists) you've got a sort of sliding scale from NPC - PC.  The more PC a character is the more owned it is by a single character, the more script immunity is has, the more permanence it has, the more alive it is, and the more verisimilitude the other players expect from the character's actions.  It's sort of a strange little catch 22 - the less like a protagonist the character is the more Nar you can play them.

So, we've got Genevieve who's about as PC as it gets.  I think her actions get played very Sim, even though I essentially choose the actions by adjusting her surroundings.  But, Luir on the other hand was primarily in the game as development for Genevieve.  At this point in the game Luir is less PC.  I choose actions for Luir where my primary motivation is to influence the story of the protagonist (Genevieve).  In a way, this makes Luir like a piece of setting for the protagonist.  Though, not technically because she is more PC than NPC and the stance used is Author not Director in the following example:

Quote from: I
This was the big important decision. Why did I make it? First off it would make for some damned interesting reactions in the morning. Second, it was one of the options of things she would do. The only other option that seems to fit at this point in her life was going into a blind rage and stabbing Luccia with a broken mirror. I decided Luir broke the news in a fashion that led her to flight instead of fight... It kept Luccia the bad guy, and seemed like the most interesting.


I would say that I made a pretty solid Nar decision with Luir here.  Because of that decision I only had one choice for what to do with Genevieve - which seems like a Sim decision.  However, whether you consider Luir as a character (Author stance) or a setting element (Director stance), the decision that actually propels the conflict forward was a Nar one.

Quote from: I
The next important point is when Genevieve decides she's going to stay behind. This decision causes a bit of a chain reaction in later sessions. Evil plans already brewing in my head. I made it because Genevieve didn't really provide me with any other options, besides it was incredibly dramatic.


Again the Genevieve decision seems solid Sim to me, but her actions were only one part of what I see as overall Nar play.

So, again if I'm getting this right, I might have an answer to this question:

Quote from: Justin
If this is an example of Nar play, how would you expect it to differ if had been Sim?


This is how I think this play would have been different if I was playing pure Sim:

The first decision point quoted above, where Luir decides how to break the news, would have been made based solely on what Luir would have said instead of my ideals for how the Genevieve story should proceed.  

But, here's the circle of doom:  I'd never had to make this decision before for Luir, so how would I have known how she would have handled it.  Why, I'd have just decided right then and there.  Which is what I did.  If I had to go back and make the decision solely on Sim grounds it would have been the same; because now that I've made the decision I know how she would have acted; because that decision defined an undefined element of her personality.

I think the key here is that I let my story goals define Luir's personality, as opposed to what would have been most accurate - which in this case would have been a completely arbitrary decision and I most likely would have made the same one anyway.

So, I don't think the play would actually have been any different if it had been Sim.  There would have just been a different motivation for how Luir broke the news.
Logged

- Cruciel
Jason Lee
Member

Posts: 729


« Reply #14 on: June 01, 2003, 05:43:52 PM »

Quote from: talysman
I think Sim with emphasis on Char is going to seem Nar if you bring "statements about how people feel and what they believe" into the Nar definition. but I think that's the wrong approach. what makes a Nar game Nar is the players make important moral decisions. they may define their characters in such a way that the character never realizes where the road they are taking is really heading.

the classic example, which I think Ron offered once as an explanation, is a Sim paladin versus a Nar paladin. the Sim paladin does good things because that's how you play a paladin if you are faithful to the paladin's concept (Fidelity to Character). the Nar paladin will be faced with a choice where doing good may involve violating the paladin's oath.

Narrativism is moral conflict. which will you choose: murder to protect your homeland, or diplomacy that could get you killed? increase profits at any cost, or lose your business because you won't bulldoze that housing development? it's not about how the character feels at all: the character's feelings and beliefs are the Sim part, not the Nar part.


If you are playing Sim|Explore:Char the character is going to have verisimilitude, and hence feelings (robots excluded, though non-feeling is a statement about feelings in my book) and a set of beliefs.  If you have any conflict at all in the game the character is going to be making decisions about how to act based on its feelings and beliefs, because the player is adhering to those feelings and beliefs, because he is playing Sim|Explore:Char.

Now, if you can unintentionally play Nar; if the players can be addressing the theme without meaning to; then the players don't necessarily know where the road is headed any better than the characters do.  The players will, by virtue of strict Sim|Explore:Char play, be creating a theme that reflects the views of the characters.

Quote
one of the other comments in this thread was about how moral and ethical questions imply an answer. you may be thinking about a moral or ethical code, which is indeed an answered offered to moral questions. Nar play does imply that there will be an answer, but the total actions of the character are, in fact, one such answer that a player offers; beyond that, there is no attempt to codify which answer is right.


Yeah, that there is not necessarily an answer sits better with me.  I think that was just my misunderstanding of whether Nar play had to be intentional or not.

Quote
I think one of the problems with the Beeg Horseshoe is that it seems to make the terminology easier to understand, but just leads into the same traps of misunderstanding that have arisen before. unless we can somehow emphasize that the Conflict axis (Challenge/Theme) is about conflict on a metagame level that is reflected in-game only incidentally, we'll get all the same "is Narrativism really a seperate mode?" and "is Simulationism really a seperate mode?" questions that we've already seen.


Heh, that's part of why I won't shut up about Nar versus Hi-Fi|Theme.  There were things I thought very clearly fell under the definition of Sim story, but which I see know are various shades of Hi-Fi|Theme (if I'm understanding correctly, and I think I am).  The big gaping hole I was worried about in the Conflict/Fidelity model was that the things I thought were Sim story would not fall on the Theme axis, hence effectively pushing many forms of play off onto the end points of the graph.  The unfortunate thing for GNS, and the fortunate thing for Conflict/Fidelity, is that I now see pure Sim play as a very tiny amount of play - as opposed to the awesome beast I once thought it was.
Logged

- Cruciel
Pages: [1] 2 3
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!