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Author Topic: Adventures in RGFA Simulationism  (Read 4718 times)
lumpley
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« on: December 30, 2003, 05:13:58 PM »

This is a long time ago, like a couple years, but there's a lull in the game.  Something resolved, we sit back and what's next?

"Well-" Meg says.

"I climb up on my roof," I say.  Meaning my guy Acanthus climbs up on his roof.  Acanthus is my main guy.  I've been playing him for a few years at this point, I find it very easy to think like him.  I hadn't planned this; I have no idea what I'm going to have him do up there.

"O...kay?" Meg says.

"I have..." I make gestures, like holding a basket of laundry, but no, more like holding a basketball.  "A bucket.  Of rocks.  A bucket of rocks?  They're just like normal rocks from the yard, in a bucket."

Meg and Em are both looking at me.

"When Ivald comes into the yard," I say, "I throw some rocks at him.  He's with -- Aliseum?  Aliseum.  I throw some rocks at her too."

"You do?" Emily says.

"I just like toss them at them.  They aren't big rocks, I'm not trying to hurt them.  They're just like, 'ow! hey!' and I'm like, toss!"

"Uh..."

"Don't look at me," I say.  "I got no more clue than you."

Meg takes on Ivald's voice and posture.  "Magus?" she has him say.  She puts her arm up to protect her head, so we all imagine Ivald doing the same.

" 'Hi Ivald,' I say.  Toss!"

"Ivald runs and gets Soraya," Meg says.

"Acanthus, the fuck?" Emily says, as Soraya.  "Are you okay?"

" 'Hey Soraya,' I say.  'I'm good.  You?'  And I'm like, toss!"

"Hey!  Dammit Acanthus!"

"I'm running out of rocks," I say.  "I call that down, actually: 'I'm running out of rocks!' "

"Good," Emily says.

"Eventually I come down," I say.

"Well?" Meg says.  Her arms are folded.  "Care to explain?"

"Got me, man," I say.

They're still both looking at me.  I maybe squirm.  "Seriously, I have no idea," I say.

I sit there scratching my head.  Is Acanthus broken?

"Oh now wait a minute," I say.  Acanthus has been struggling with the fairies in the covenant to take ownership of his lab.  We spent the bulk of a couple of sessions on it several weeks ago.  I'd had him map the arcane influences in his lab by stringing a dense network of differently-colored strings with bells and chimes and prisms hanging on them, and "taking readings" eight times a day every day for a lunar month.  We'd established that the fairy influence radiated up from the ground, so after the mapping I'd had him lay out an ordered grid in ritually prepared salt on his floor, to drive the fairies out.  When he came back, they'd rearranged the salt into beautiful organic curves, abstract floral patterns, and they hadn't been driven out at all.  Grr.  That's where it stood today.

I had, incidentally, described the lab's layout.  Meg and Em had expected something luxurious and self-indulgent, but no, it was all workspace, benches and shelves, with just a pallet on the floor.

"I've been sleeping on the floor!" I said.  "Frickin' - the fairies have gotten into my head!  I've been sleeping down there steeped in frickin' fairy effluvia!"

(I can only wish that I'd actually said the words "frickin' fairy effluvia," alas.)

"Oh!  Of course!" Meg and Emily say.  "Ha!  You really didn't plan that?"  We're all collectively happy at how fitting it is, after all.  There's that click where what seemed like nonsense suddenly seems indespensible, inevitable.  Then there's that half-embarassed glance at the heavens where we wonder if we aren't, actually, channelling something that's somehow somewhere really happening.

In-character experience = Truth Unassailable.  The Threefold's Simulationist dogma.

Was It Sim?
Well, I haven't given you enough to judge, but no!  Of course it wasn't Sim!  Acanthus' struggle with the fairies was positively dripping with theme-in-progress.  It was a textbook rising conflict - the rock incident being one escalation - and it ended sessions later with "responsible power respects its neighbors" plain as day.  Would Meg and Em have cared about stupid Acanthus and his stupid rocks otherwise?  Not the way they did.  Not enough for it to still come up sometimes.

My Take on the Threefold
I'm just looking back to the olden days, without even rereading any of the essays or usenet posts John Kim's got linked and archived, so don't take me too seriously.  But it seems to me that the Threefold's Simulationism and Dramatism comment on the Exploration level, not the CA level.  They aren't creative agendas nor do they point to them.  They're ways to Explore.  Different tastes, different takes on in-game causality, character and setting integrity, participant authorship (when and about what), the role of mechanics, whether roleplaying is "fundamentally" internal to each participant or shared between them, dogmas about what "breaks immersion" and what "snaps suspenders."

If I'm right, that means that there can exist Narrativist play with a Threefold Simulationist approach (as I've just described), a Dramatist approach (My Life with Master, perhaps?), plus other approaches not recognized by the old RGFA synechdochers.  Similarly, Simulationist play with a Threefold Simulationist approach, a Dramatist approach, plus others.  Gamist too I wouldn't doubt.  In other words I agree with Gordon here.

I don't think there's any reason to name all the cells in the table.  Especially because the Threefold is just ideals, preferences and dogmas.  Let's talk about techniques instead - ideals made concrete.

-Vincent

I don't want to draw theory discussion out of that thread, so I'll link there.  If anybody wants to talk about the actual play, here's good.  Cool?
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