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General Forge Forums => Actual Play => Topic started by: Callan S. on October 21, 2009, 08:42:44 PM



Title: Looking at the idea called 'system' again
Post by: Callan S. on October 21, 2009, 08:42:44 PM
From the thread on colour (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=28829.0), which is a quote from Ron
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If I can see the bigger reward system, grasp the Currency, and get bug-eyed to transform the Color into System through play

There's something about this that makes me go "Huh, is that how you've/everyones been refering to system all this time?"

I'll start off with a kind of obtuse example - if I'm on public transport and someone has decided punction is best replaced by the f word and an occasional c bomb, and I decide to say nothing and and do nothing and kind of put up with that, is that a system?

Also awhile back I played in a game of rifts, and the GM (a friend of mine) had been saying that aimed/called shots, which take up an attack, don't mean you have to wait. Eg, if it would use up two attacks, you don't sit through two turns doing nothing, you do it now and your total attacks for the melee round is reduced by two. However, when it came to reloading, latter in the same game, no, you had to use an attack and do nothing for a turn. I tried to present this apparent conflict, but he literally said something like 'Aww, come on, you can't just reload and shoot all at once'...despite the fact that apparently people were carefully aiming for some time, yet shooting instantly and somehow that aiming time happened after the shot (was taken off the number of attacks). At this point I thought of the golden rule, how it'd eventually get invoked no doubt, and ceased bothering to discuss it and just went with it (and chalked up yet another dumb and uninteresting point against the golden rule).

And you might say 'Ah, but the golden rule! You agreed!'. But...agreed to what? Any possible permutation of it's application? I'm not sure that's humanly possible. I've played games of the card game lunch money, and had "block, grapple, combo, hail mary!" all laid on me - all that stuff, though, I certainly agreed to. And by that I mean I can look back into my own past and remember seeing the possibility of it, and giving it the nod. While here I am not able to recall accepting that aimed shots take no time at all, as I didn't. It's much like the train example, except here it's more about checking whether I put up with it, and deciding I do based on giving friends leeway.

"Ah ha, THAT's system!" perhaps might be said. But the thing is, this still comes down to a crunch of me deciding if I put up with shit. Tolerating events (should one decide to) that come up, whether it's the train or some one at the table inventing stuff, is not system. The fact that I don't reach over and wrap my fingers around your throat, doesn't mean there's some sort of system between us.

Or so I would have thought would be widely taken as the case. But I'm not sure the word system has been used this way, since it started being used. It'd certainly explain the anyway smelly chamberlain thread if that's all called system.

What is system? Well I'd scrap considering anything that's outside of the rules, to be honest. Scrap the idea that its "not limited to 'the rules'". Why is that - well, not because of some fetish for rules but simply because you can see the rules. You can test if someone else is actually following what they agreed to follow. Otherwise you sound a bit like declaring god exists, when you say someones participating in a system - once it's outside of the things which can be used to check if you are followng a system (rules), then like assertions of a gods existance, just as much one can't readily disprove a gods existance, nor can you disprove someone is acting within a system. But by the same token it can't be proved, either. It's in limbo. Neither proved nor disproved, with no way of gaining evidence either way. There is no measure to check it by, and if you do invent a measure, bang, you just invented some rules! System is either inside rules only or we are all literally blind to whether someone is acting within a system or not, with no measure to test that assertion. If you just wanna have faith they are in some sort of system, I dunno. Anything I'd say about that would be clipped, so I'll wait to see if it actually comes up.


Title: Re: Looking at the idea called 'system' again
Post by: lumpley on October 22, 2009, 05:30:00 AM
Well, the idea is to look at a group really at play and figure out what their system is, not to look at a person's decisions and classify them as in-system vs out-of-system. Start with play and observe system, don't start with system and classify play.

If you look at dysfunctional play, like the play you're describing, you'll find dysfunctional systems, like "I put up with shit." That's not surprising.

-Vincent



Title: Re: Looking at the idea called 'system' again
Post by: FredGarber on October 22, 2009, 10:07:19 AM
Callan,
I disagree that System should be limited to the rules.  You can measure all the other things as well, at the very least by the binary marker of "Did he show up to game or did he find some other way to spend his time?"  The relationship between players and GM is part of the System, most definitely.  There are whole books written on managing these relationships, like this one: http://www.amazon.com/Robins-Laws-Good-Game-Mastering/dp/1556346298 (http://www.amazon.com/Robins-Laws-Good-Game-Mastering/dp/1556346298)

Relationships between people are messy and complicated, but they are quantifiable and can be measured and adjusted.

There's a link in the spawning "How does Color get into System" thread here: http://www.lumpley.com/anycomment.php?entry=234 (http://www.lumpley.com/anycomment.php?entry=234) that I think helps here.
Vincent divides System into four parts: Ad-Hoc Decisions, Principled Decisions, the Rules You Use, and the Rules you Ignore.
Most of that post is a discussion of what Vincent means when he says "The Rules," so it doesn't matter here.  But his model is useful:

In your example, You saw the Aiming Time decision as Ad-hoc (not principled), but a Good, because it increased the Fun. 
When the Reloading Time decision came up, you tried to get it accepted as a Good, because it would increase the Fun, not because it made sense (was a Principled decision).  The GM tried to make a case that Reloading Time had to follow a 'Realism' Principle, and you pointed out that there wasn't a Principle behind Aiming Time, so why did there have to be a Principle behind Reloading Time?

Your discussion about whether or not you were willing to put up with those house rules was a discussion of whether or not you wanted to agree with the group's System.
IMHO, you agreed to decisions made in play when you don't say "That's bull, I don't want to play with that,"  You agreed by Omission, rather than by Commission, so to speak.

People talk about Capes on this forum as either being playable in two different ways: Ultra Gamist or Ultra Narrative, with no middle ground.
In that case, the rules don't change, but a group making Decisions how those rules are applied is Exploration of System. (as well as any of the other Explorations).  As long as all the players are Exploring System in the same way (operating on the same Principles), the game goes well.  There are a number of APs where groups hate Capes because the group was not united in Principle (and Exploring System in different directions).

-Fred


Title: Re: Looking at the idea called 'system' again
Post by: Callan S. on October 22, 2009, 06:31:59 PM
Guys, your starting off with the assumption system did exist, then looking for evidence only in that direction. Particularly when/if you say 'what the system is' rather than 'whether there was a system at all, and if there was one, what was it?'. I mean, speaking with absolutely no doubt there was a system, it's just a question of what it was? Absolute certainty? No capacity for failure at all in terms of thinking that? Utterly perfect knowledge on that matter?

Put it this way - do you think it's even possible for there to be an abscence of system?

If not, oh well, I'm not taking that on in this thread, that's for sure.

This thread is for people who go 'Well, I guess it's possible' and then we ask 'How would you measure whether it was the case, assuming it can be measured?'



Title: Re: Looking at the idea called 'system' again
Post by: JoyWriter on October 23, 2009, 07:09:52 AM
Callan, there's a bit of philosophical stuff going on in this thread, to do with circular logic, empiricism, falsifiability and all that business, but before I get into that, you have quoted a sentence fragment there, so I can't really see what your aha moment was:

"if x and y exist and b becomes c, then ....."

I don't really see how that can give you any insight into c, aside from the fact that b can possibly become it. Where's the insight? Does it require something else in the rest of the post you quoted from?


Secondly, and I think this is really important, the big model is about functional play. People have seen great things and want to describe it, they had a good game yesterday and want to work out what was present in that game. It may be you've never had a good game in your life, or it might be that you've only had good games in certain specific situations: When you worked together happily and had a really enjoyable game, that's where the measurement is being taken and the theory is about finding a pattern of experience that connects those good times. This kind of theory is about what it looks like when we "win" at making a form of arrangement that everyone is happy with, that we want to continue. Once you know the target, then you can compare your current situation to it and try to find how to get there.


Title: Re: Looking at the idea called 'system' again
Post by: Callan S. on October 23, 2009, 04:04:35 PM
Hi Josh,

I don't really understand or recognise your own rephrasing? Perhaps your rephrasing is off?

And again you've given the assumption that there definately was a system - this time you've given the conditional that if you had a good time there must have been a system involved.

Really? If you had a good time, that definately means a system was involved? As I ask above, is it possible that even in an enjoyable game, no system was involved? Do you think it's even slightly possible? If not and your certain there has to have been a system - well, I'm not tackling that sort of certainty in this thread. I'm not sure it's possible to tackle, even - if someones not prepared to doubt their beliefs to some degree, what could anyone else say or do to change that, anyway?

It's possible for a series of events to occur that happen to be quite fun. Afterwards one can try and recall those events, invent a procedure and try and make it all occur again by following that procedure. But this is inventing a system after those events happened. It doesn't mean there was a system going on at the time just because afterward you can think of a system that fits those events. If someones walking past a stack of beach balls and it collapses perchance and they have fun dodging them, can they stack up the balls and deliberately make them collapse for dodging fun/make a system of it? Yes. Does that mean there was a system involved the first time? No. It was just a chance event.

Honestly, your all aware of how many traditional games get played in multiple different and incompatable ways, yet you think how things occured in those games come from some system? No, it's like the stack of beach balls - they sat down, shit happened, it was fun. But there was no system, even though those fun events are recreatable.

Again for everyone, if your only certain that system must have existed, or system must exist if the game session was good, this thread isn't for you. It's only for people who can mull over the idea that perhaps it's possible that no system existed, and how to measure if that was the case (assuming it's measurable).

Just try mulling over the idea of "what if there was no system involved in X instance of my own play history", for thirty seconds. Don't even have to post about it or anything that might acknowledge the idea at all. Just mull it over. What harm could mulling do? Or if you do want to post and say "Well, I thought about it but it seems crazy, because that would involve things being X...and I know they are Y", go for it. And if you don't want to think about anything but your premise of there being a system is right, don't post. The only way I know of to prove something is false, is if the person will humour the idea even slightly that it's false. Unless you put some effort into disproving something yourself, nobody can disprove it to you, simply because your simply not even putting the effort of absorbing what is said. If you wont, it's a waste of time trying to disprove it - atleast by words, anyway. Don't post, you'll be wasting your time and you'll be wasting my time.


Title: Re: Looking at the idea called 'system' again
Post by: Ben Lehman on October 23, 2009, 09:51:38 PM
So you're basically asking: Does system exist as a thing itself outside of and pre-existing our definitions?

That's easy. No.

System, the term, exists solely as a means to analyze play, text, and the interaction between text and play.

There is not abstract truth to it. If you want to do analysis of play, text, or the interaction between text and play without a concept labeled "system" go right ahead. You don't need anyone's permission.


Title: Re: Looking at the idea called 'system' again
Post by: JoyWriter on October 24, 2009, 05:09:17 AM
I don't really understand or recognise your own rephrasing? Perhaps your rephrasing is off?

Then we've reached mutual incomprehensibility then! A way forward of a kind, at least we know we're looking at it very differently now.

I sought to point out that as a logical statement, (an I thought I'd talk about it that way given your programming background) that fragment you quoted is pretty devoid of meaning; it's an "if" without an "implies". But ignoring that floatyness, and taking it as a statement of fact, all it tells you is that something can become something else; whether you call those elements of the theory "colour and system", or "jam and monk". The syntactic content is not sufficient to define the terms, so I wasn't sure what the insight the phrase unlocked was. What previous misunderstanding does this resolve? Or what does it state that was previously undefined? Did you just twig that you can link the classic forge model of exploration with Vincent's clouds and boxes stuff?

And again you've given the assumption that there definately was a system - this time you've given the conditional that if you had a good time there must have been a system involved.

I haven't got there yet! All I've said is that there is something that is common in experience between good games, and people make up a pattern to describe it. If someone comes to you saying "I had an awesome game last night", then you try to see if that game is intepretable within that pattern, if it is structurally homomorphic to the model (in operations reserach speech). If it is; if you can categorise every part of what made the experience good by the existing model, then great, and maybe you can use some of the predictions associated with that model to suggest other things they can do. But if not, this is one place where falsification comes in, or at the very least change, where vocabulary shifts and twists around.

For example, say you suggest you had a good game where no system was around, then people will ask you what happened in the game, and what kind of things were said and how people reacted to it. They will then see if this matches to what they call "system", and if they can get it to match, they may make some suggestions about things you haven't told them yet. If they turn out to be different from their predictions, they may ask more questions, trying to shift their picture of your game until they see ways to bridge between the kind of games they enjoy and the kind you enjoy. At the end of this, they may say, "system exists in this form ____" by which they mean "your language maps onto my language in this way ____".
Success at such a process twists the definition in such a way that it may be very different to what they started with. But this doesn't matter, providing the new understanding includes all the explanatory power of the old one, and you can explain the changes.

I still haven't hit your core complaint, so sorry if this is going a bit slow, but I want to insure that I pace myself to avoid overloading etc.


Title: Re: Looking at the idea called 'system' again
Post by: Callan S. on October 24, 2009, 11:34:26 PM
Hi Ben,

That doesn't seem to jive with the system does matter article? It specifically refers to system as a way of resolving what happens during play, not a way of analyzing what might have happen during a gathering?


Hi Josh,

Quote
taking it as a statement of fact, all it tells you is that something can become something else;
That's not worth questioning/I wouldn't be questioning that? Wait, never mind that, I'll just cut to the chase - yes, I'm questioning this statement of fact.

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At the end of this, they may say, "system exists in this form ____"
I'll seperate two ideas of system really quick. One is that you could consider chaos theory events a system. For naming purposes I'll call this a darwinistic system. Check out my beach ball example from above (when it happens by chance), to indicate darwinistic system in action.

The other one is where you ask someone if they want to be a part of a procedure/system, they agree and there's alot of evidence that they are following the procedure originally proposed, right at a given moment. Check out my beach ball example from above, when they recreate the beach ball avalanche delberately, for an example of this system.

If your refering to the second use of the word system (or atleast more that one than darwinistic system), then yeah, your again just giving the assumption there was a system, then going on to only try and confirm your hypothesis, with no effort to try and disprove your assumption.

If your skipping from one to the other and back again, intermingling the situations as if they are one and the same - that's probably the core error to this I'm trying to point out.


Title: Re: Looking at the idea called 'system' again
Post by: JoyWriter on October 26, 2009, 07:27:38 PM
That's not worth questioning/I wouldn't be questioning that? Wait, never mind that, I'll just cut to the chase - yes, I'm questioning this statement of fact.

Ok then! What I wanted to find out was why this was a revelation, cause of how seeing what someone finds mind-expanding might tell you something about how they think. But I reckon we've got enough fuel for discussion now anyway.


In response to your question to Ben, I'd say that it is both:

The very article is an activity analysing what happens during play! And it describes a part of people playing the game as system. "System" in that context is a word used for talking about games, and describes a specific bit of what happened. Really obvious right?
There's some profound stuff there if you can be bothered to get it, and I'll try a really shortcut example here:
People divide up the world into things, and put names to those things. Some people will talk about a wood, other people trees, other people paths. You can switch in your head from thinking about "the wood" as a zone, a big block of space, or about a selection of trees spread on surface of the earth, or not focus on the trees as much as the way certain gaps line up to form spaces you can walk through. The "existence" of these things is a question of how much our mental pictures are backed up by reality.

So is there a path between the trees? Does it exist in the same way the tree's do? You get the idea.

If someones walking past a stack of beach balls and it collapses perchance and they have fun dodging them, can they stack up the balls and deliberately make them collapse for dodging fun/make a system of it? Yes. Does that mean there was a system involved the first time? No. It was just a chance event.

That idea of post-event rationalising is quite a genie to unleash: It applies to your "darwinian systems" as much as it does to people playing games. Maybe everything is just random stuff happening, constant change, and we just create theories and systems and logic as a fragile net woven to ignore the world's fundimental meaningless nonsense. Maybe all communication, all conceptualisation, all thinking is just a post-hoc defence mechanism against the roiling chaos of existence.

Maybe I'm incorrect, and maybe correctness itself is incorrect. Maybe.

But people always make definitions and act as if they are true, that's called acting on your current understanding, it's called living! The question is whether you challenge your definitions by subjecting them to demonstration, and I've suggested before the basis for testing that these ideas of "system" have. If they succeed, and I'll emphasise it again, they have succeeded in partially mapping their picture of their previous experience onto the situation you describe to them, or onto their own experience if it is their own game they are analysing.

Anyway, this is way too general, lets focus more on games in particular:

If your skipping from one to the other and back again, intermingling the situations as if they are one and the same - that's probably the core error to this I'm trying to point out.

It may be that people are misusing a word, confusing themselves by shifting from one definition to another inconsistently, or it may be that they define a word differently to you, and you are only just realising this. Perhaps their not confusing themselves about what they mean, just you?

And to be honest I'm not sure it's about confusion to any great extent, more disagreement.

Remember how I said about the big model rpg theory version of "system" being a part of a model of good play? Here's what I think has happened; if I'm right Vincent put the fear of Kaos into you by including into his model of "good play" something (http://www.lumpley.com/comment.php?entry=460) that is similar in many important ways to some of the worst experiences you've had playing rpgs.

So you're there going "what the hell? that sounds awful! How can someone by suggesting that as a part of play?"

So there's a definition split; you pull back from the full variety of Vincent's definition and try to ground your's in what games you have enjoyed.
You also try to understand why people could be suggesting such an abusive relationship, like the one you experienced. Do they just like being abusive? Are they confused about something? etc.

Here's what I'd say, it's similar, but not the same. In other words there is some component of Vincent's games that allow him to get away with pissing about with the authority structures of the game.

But maybe that's not true, maybe tolerance is all there is. That the thing that holds the game together moment to moment is just tolerating the crappy bits of what someone does and enjoying the good bits? Does that view help? Explain anything?

But what is the place for adherence to rules texts, if people can just sit in a room and "put up with" each other's contributions? Is it about restricting the region of possible stuff to be tolerated?


Title: Re: Looking at the idea called 'system' again
Post by: Callan S. on October 27, 2009, 02:41:18 AM
Josh, I think your just pitching that a wrench can be used like a hammer, thus it's both. Do we have any common ground on what it's original intent was? Cause if we don't, then we don't.

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But people always make definitions and act as if they are true, that's called acting on your current understanding, it's called living! The question is whether you challenge your definitions by subjecting them to demonstration
I think I'm talking about asking questions before, rather than asking questions latter/asking after having already acted.

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It may be that people are misusing a word, confusing themselves by shifting from one definition to another inconsistently, or it may be that they define a word differently to you, and you are only just realising this. Perhaps their not confusing themselves about what they mean, just you?
People could define a glass of cyanide differently from me - doesn't mean their defining it differently will mean it'll have different properties once drunk. On this principle, no, I don't respect 'oh, this is our special definition'. Or I respect it about as much as the cyanide would, anyway. (a dark humour part of me wants to say that upon finding this to be true, a gamer would then redefine the word 'drink' and thus declare the problem solved, because they weren't drinking the cyanide anymore)

There are practical issues, physiological issues, with mixing the idea of darwinistic system and man made system. These practical issues do not go away because you define something differently, just as the effects of cyanide do not go away if you define it differently.

We could go into physiological issues, but if you want to talk about it as if it's only a matter of how you want to define it, then we just don't share common ground again.

Quote
Here's what I'd say, it's similar, but not the same. In other words there is some component of Vincent's games that allow him to get away with pissing about with the authority structures of the game.

But maybe that's not true, maybe tolerance is all there is. That the thing that holds the game together moment to moment is just tolerating the crappy bits of what someone does and enjoying the good bits? Does that view help? Explain anything?
This is probably about as close to common ground as we'll get.

If you take it once step further and stop imagining tolerance to be a man made system, you...I dunno, can I give an OTT example? What if, after 'pissing about with authority' the person pulls a knife and inserts it into the throat of someone else? Is that a system? I'm taking it your answer will be no. Okay, how about an old AP example I heard from RPG.net, where a new guy joins a group and at a certain point when his character was hit by a bullet, the GM, under the table and without saying anything prior, shoots him in real life in the gut with a paintball gun. Is that a system? The other guys at that table apparently stayed around. If people stay at the table, does that mean system must exist?

If your tolerance hasn't snapped yet, does that mean there's a system? Or just that your tolerance hasn't snapped yet?

On a side note I try and think of how to put this sort of question into a new game design, instead of just this - but it's hard to figure out how to put it in.


Title: Re: Looking at the idea called 'system' again
Post by: Caldis on October 27, 2009, 07:17:30 AM
Okay, how about an old AP example I heard from RPG.net, where a new guy joins a group and at a certain point when his character was hit by a bullet, the GM, under the table and without saying anything prior, shoots him in real life in the gut with a paintball gun. Is that a system? The other guys at that table apparently stayed around. If people stay at the table, does that mean system must exist?

If your tolerance hasn't snapped yet, does that mean there's a system? Or just that your tolerance hasn't snapped yet?

If they are able to make it work then yes it's a system.  It may be a crap system but it's a system.  It's how they are determining what happens in the game, it sounds like there are a lot of mind games going on to get people into a mental state that brings them closer to their characters.  The link between getting shot by a paintball and your character being shot seems pretty tenuous at best but there are a lot of other crap systems that dont actually achieve what they are intended to do.   System as a term is value neutral.  It is what it is, these people are doing this and that is how they play.  It's left to you to make value judgements on whether you like that system or not.

Let's look back at your initial example.
Quote
Also awhile back I played in a game of rifts, and the GM (a friend of mine) had been saying that aimed/called shots, which take up an attack, don't mean you have to wait. Eg, if it would use up two attacks, you don't sit through two turns doing nothing, you do it now and your total attacks for the melee round is reduced by two. However, when it came to reloading, latter in the same game, no, you had to use an attack and do nothing for a turn. I tried to present this apparent conflict, but he literally said something like 'Aww, come on, you can't just reload and shoot all at once'...despite the fact that apparently people were carefully aiming for some time, yet shooting instantly and somehow that aiming time happened after the shot (was taken off the number of attacks). At this point I thought of the golden rule, how it'd eventually get invoked no doubt, and ceased bothering to discuss it and just went with it (and chalked up yet another dumb and uninteresting point against the golden rule).
 

They have a system, it's one you dont like but there is a system.  Does that fact that you dont like the system suddenly mean there isnt one?  If the rest of the players at the table dont mind it and continue to play after you leave are they playing systemless?  Of course not.  There is system, one where the gm determines how the rules work.  It is a system even if it's not systematic. 


Title: Re: Looking at the idea called 'system' again
Post by: Callan S. on October 27, 2009, 04:37:07 PM
Hi Caldis,

Quote
If they are able to make it work then yes it's a system.
I'm not sure what you mean, chronologically? Take my beach ball example - when the balls fell down by chance, there was no system. But then after that, the guy decides to set them up to avalanche at him. That set up is obviously a system at that point. If that's what your saying, that after the events he can find a way of repeating them that works, well at that point that's a system, yes. It's a system he worked out after the original chance fall of the beach balls.

But if your trying to say that afterward, if he says it works, that means there was always a system/there was a system even before he worked out a system...well, do you have any evidence toward that?

Quote
They have a system, it's one you dont like but there is a system.  Does that fact that you dont like the system suddenly mean there isnt one?  If the rest of the players at the table dont mind it and continue to play after you leave are they playing systemless?  Of course not.  There is system, one where the gm determines how the rules work.  It is a system even if it's not systematic.

Your starting with a premise that system exists, then trying to raise the idea that if I don't like it that doesn't prove there is no system. Of course, debunking something that might prove it doesn't exist, doesn't add any evidence that it does exist. Debunking a million pieces of disproving evidence doesn't provide even a single piece of evidence for something. Then your saying they are indeed playing, which is just you saying they are playing a system. This is just coming down to me having to take your word for it.

When people are around a chess board, it's possible to measure their physical actions in regards to their pieces, to determine if they are following the rules of chess. You can provide proof someones following a system. Indeed with capes or escape from tentacle city, if people were sitting around a table you can in the same way measure their physical actions in regards to tokens and points and provide proof of there being a man made system between them.

If you can't provide proof, your working from faith. If you want to, okay, whatever. Apart from occasional exceptions, that'd be as far as the forge gets then.


Title: Re: Looking at the idea called 'system' again
Post by: contracycle on October 27, 2009, 05:03:47 PM
Quote
If they are able to make it work then yes it's a system.  It may be a crap system but it's a system.  It's how they are determining what happens in the game, it sounds like there are a lot of mind games going on to get people into a mental state that brings them closer to their characters.  The link between getting shot by a paintball and your character being shot seems pretty tenuous at best but there are a lot of other crap systems that dont actually achieve what they are intended to do.   System as a term is value neutral.  It is what it is, these people are doing this and that is how they play.  It's left to you to make value judgements on whether you like that system or not.

This seems pretty weak to me.  Being-shot-with-a-paintball decides nothing, determines nothing, does not influence the game state.  One could claim that its a sort of penalty, but I think its a far safer bet that it's just a bunch of hyper-macho idiots pissing about.

How can something with zero transformatory power be a "system" of anything?  At best it is the product of a system.  Sure, it may require some degree of social contract agreement to keep playing that way, and its not as if I've never played games (like Knuckles) that include this sort of element.  But the fact of consent surely cannot itself be taken to imply the presence of something that can be dignified with the term "system".

It seems to me that the weakness of the system-is-what-they-agreed-to argument is that its not transferable.  If "system" is to be so abstract that any structure of relations between players is regarded a "system", then the exercise of rules writing is so much intellectual masturbation.  If system can't be abstracted out of specific relationships, rendered into a textual form and reproduced by others, then system design is itself impossible.

Obviously, players of games may have rules that are not textual, but nonetheless exist.  But that doesn't mean that such rules are in some way ineffable such that they cannot be abstracted ,encoded in text, and reproduced; it merely means that these players have not yet done so.  This applies equally to games that are fun or not fun, functional or otherwise.  It is certainly, practically speaking, worth asking what elements of a fun game might have been non-explicit, and not recognised as system at the time - but it does not follow from this that the act of consent to any old thing accords that thing the status of system.

It's valid to ask what was agreed to in order to discern all of the elements of system which were actually in use; it is not valid to then conclude that agreement itself defines the presence of system.


Title: Re: Looking at the idea called 'system' again
Post by: Caldis on October 27, 2009, 08:30:57 PM
Hi Caldis,I'm not sure what you mean, chronologically? Take my beach ball example - when the balls fell down by chance, there was no system. But then after that, the guy decides to set them up to avalanche at him. That set up is obviously a system at that point. If that's what your saying, that after the events he can find a way of repeating them that works, well at that point that's a system, yes. It's a system he worked out after the original chance fall of the beach balls.

Thing is we're not really doing it, we're imagining it happen.  It all happens inside our heads and is shared with others, there is no question of can we do it, we can do anything.  All you have to be able to do is imagine the beach balls being restacked, now different people might imagine failed attempts at restacking the beach balls while others might imagine getting it done right the first time.  That's all system is in an RPG resolving what happens so we can all agree.

Check out the Lumpley principle.

"System (including but not limited to 'the rules') is defined as the means by which the group agrees to imagined events during play."

So what do we need for a system to be in place?  A group that agrees to imagined events during play.  How they agreed upon those events was the system.  That system may have been invented in play, it doesnt have to exist before the play happens but when they do imagine the things happening it has to resolve them so that everyone can agree.  If you dont agree then you can argue to change the system or you can leave the group you cant really keep playing and not agree with what has happened.  You cant have half of the group believing the beach balls have all been restacked while one person continues to describe how they are attempting to restack the beach balls.

System is never laid out in full before hand, it always depends on the group and how they interact with the rules of the game.



Title: Re: Looking at the idea called 'system' again
Post by: JoyWriter on October 27, 2009, 08:44:22 PM
Josh, I think your just pitching that a wrench can be used like a hammer, thus it's both. Do we have any common ground on what it's original intent was? Cause if we don't, then we don't.

I'm trying to say a lot more than that, but that should be enough for now. I think original intent is a bit of red herring, maybe it's just more important how closely the object fits your definition of a hammer or wrench, including how it can be used. That kind of pragmatic domain is what I'm focusing on here, because these definitions, this "rpg theory" is supposed to be focused on helping practice along. By the way I'm glad you took the last post well, I was a little concerned that combining philosophy with humour might sound a bit snarky, which I hope you know wasn't my intention.

People could define a glass of cyanide differently from me - doesn't mean their defining it differently will mean it'll have different properties once drunk. On this principle, no, I don't respect 'oh, this is our special definition'. Or I respect it about as much as the cyanide would, anyway. (a dark humour part of me wants to say that upon finding this to be true, a gamer would then redefine the word 'drink' and thus declare the problem solved, because they weren't drinking the cyanide anymore)

Ok, suppose someone out there has a resistance to cyanide poisoning, and in fact has quite a liking for it's taste, in the right circumstances. (Maybe they're an alien) They might define it as an acquired taste, and you would define it as a poison. But because of the differences between you and them, you are both right!

You suggest correctly that the world and it's practical issues will indeed overrule our pictures, and so sometimes a difference in definition means a difference in circumstance.

So here's what I'm suggesting; we go hell for leather after your idea of "putting up with shit", grounded as it is in your own experience, and then compare it to "system" as a component of "exploration", and all that stuff. In other words start with assuming system doesn't exist, and is not a real thing at all(as opposed to a real but absent thing). That may sound a pretty dull way to analyse it, but you often find that starting with your own words and your own view and stating them clearly allows people to come in and say "that bit there, that's what I mean by system".

So how about we just talk about tolerance vs agreement?

In the example of the paintball, as contracycle suggests, the effects on what people say in the game are not mentioned. We know very little beyond the fact that they stayed, or at least I know very little. So perhaps it's to vague and second hand an example to use? As a tangent it does occur to me that a lot of rpg theory is inward looking, focused on the games effect on itself, and doesn't consider that the process of play might chuck out all kinds of interesting artefacts. I'll be having a think about that.

Hang on, it's just occurred to me that you might be cross that people confused you by using the word system in a way you were not prepared for, and seek to use example or precedent to justify banning the word system from being used in that way. If this is true I think you will find that a fruitless struggle, given that the very foundations of system theory are built on the plurality of acceptable models and the ability to draw system boundaries any way you want. This broader idea of systems is a much bigger than your one of "darwinian systems" and the system defined by the "lumpley principle", native to the forge. My advice is not to bother policing people's words in this way, if that is what your doing, but rather seeking to insure those definitions don't encourage people to drink poison!


Title: Re: Looking at the idea called 'system' again
Post by: Callan S. on October 29, 2009, 03:16:48 PM
I'm just not seeing much coherance to the original authors of the idea (or willfully ignoring the intent, yet still amazingly using it as a reference for arguement). In other cases I've pitched the idea that perhaps there was no system and said this is not a thread for zealous conviction there must be a system, you must humour doubt there was a system (even if you don't really believe that, but are just humouring the idea) to participate, and in those cases participation stopped. And with Gareths/contracycles post, it's mostly establishing what I'm trying to establish, so that's already complete. So I'm summing up.

You can't make system through play. You can ask someone if they want to follow a system you've thought up. No, there is no principle of "Oh, you don't always have to ask permission for something". Why? Because ask the damn people your going to play with if you don't have to ask permission always. If they say no, then clearly no, there is no such principle! They just said no to it! But because I, here on a chat forum, can't prove you don't always have to ask (oddly enough I can't in advance prove what someones going to consent to), that must make it a true principle you don't always have to ask? No! Ask the damn people your playing with. It's just wank to sit on a forum and tell each other that yeah, a group of players can do something, for example, the GM didn't agree to, and thats a rule of how things work in life, like gravity is a rule of how things work in life. No, ask a GM in that position if he wants to do that. If he says no, then clearly there is no "Oh, you don't always have to ask permission for something" principle that exists in real life, otherwise he'd be compelled by that real life 'fact' to say yes. Thinking otherwise is as bullshit as all the ideas that if you buy a woman X, Y and Z she'll sleep with you, as if it's a principle that 'woman brain' just follows. That's just a display of lame theory of mind, that's blind to consent and only sees a new rule of physics on 'how things work'.

Or it's worse than wank. I'll draw your attention of how domestic violence becomes ingrained into the 'system' of the 'relationship', with bullshit justifications "He only does it when he's angry". Oh, and you know these people genuinely believe it's a relationship - clearly showing that people, human beings, like you or me, can make a 'system' out of really...murky elements. Before you start 'spoofing' the GM or anybody, you might want to ask if that's how you want to live and tell others enmasse by forum it's okay to live that way. Because I can't honestly prove that the domestic violence couple aren't a 'system' or a 'relationship'. But just because something can't be disproved as a system, doesn't mean it's something you want to do in your life. I'm wondering if standards in the community are degrading, or atleast measured against my own set of standards (which I'm not saying are the be all and end all), they always were degraded.


Title: Re: Looking at the idea called 'system' again
Post by: Marshall Burns on October 29, 2009, 03:43:42 PM
All right. This is probably gonna get me into arguments, but what the hell.

There is no such thing as "shit just happening." If something happens, it happens because something caused it to happen. Gravity, momentum, Newton's second law of mechanics, and conservation of energy caused the beach balls to behave as they did (what causes gravity, et al? Fuck if I know, but before we get into anything like that, such theoretical physics are a bit beyond our scope here, yes?).

Likewise, if some people are sitting around a table, anything that happens at that table happens because one or more of them caused it to happen.

Such a collection of causes and their effects, and the events that prompt causes into action, among a specific group of players for a specific unit of play comprises a specific System (as defined by the LP). Therefore there is no way for System to not exist. There is no way for things to happen at the table without someone causing them to happen.

A System can be disordered; it's still a System. You can cause things on accident; you still caused them, and it still contributes to the System. You can be displeased with the System's results; it's still a System.

So what exactly are we talking about here?


Title: Re: Looking at the idea called 'system' again
Post by: contracycle on October 29, 2009, 05:28:13 PM
Such a collection of causes and their effects, and the events that prompt causes into action, among a specific group of players for a specific unit of play comprises a specific System (as defined by the LP). Therefore there is no way for System to not exist. There is no way for things to happen at the table without someone causing them to happen.

I don't think that makes any sense.  A "collection of causes and effects" can only be considered to be a system when they are systematically organised.  And if they are not organised, then they are indeed just stuff happening, regardless of whether they had to be initiated and agreed.

Otherwise, there is only one system that any game needs, and I shall show it to you.  Here it is:  "People sit around and agree what happens in the game.  The End."  That is the perfect system; all other systems are subsets of this magnum opus.  RPG design is now officially a Solved problem, and we can all pack up and go home.  I shall be signing autographs at 4pm on Tuesday.

As I have already mentioned, it may well be true that components of a given system at use at a given table may be implicit rather than explicit, and not contained in the textual rules.  But even that view must implicitly accept that they are agreements about the game and the play of the game, for the purposes of determining how the in-game content is to be created or altered.  Even non-explicit, non-textual rules are implicitly systematic.

A system cannot be so disordered that it loses the quality of controlling game content without losing the quality of being a kind "system" at all.  Ad hoc decisions are just ad hoc decisions; they are, specifically, not systematic decisions.  A series  of ad hoc deicsions does not constitute a system, they merely constitute a series of ad hoc decisions.  Can that be a fun kind of game?  Sure!  But it's no longer a game governed by a system.  And if the claim is advanced that any series of decisions, not matter how ad hoc or disorganised, is indistinguishable from system, then in fact system doesn't matter after all.


Title: Re: Looking at the idea called 'system' again
Post by: Caldis on October 29, 2009, 08:37:39 PM
A few things need to be straightened out.  The System does matter article predates the Lumpley principle so what that article is talking about and what system has come to mean may not be exactly the same thing.   Look to the provisional glossary or better yet check out http://www.lumpley.com/opine.html

I think you guys are getting messed up because you are thinking of system as something you use to help you play out a session.  That's not the case, when we talk system we're talking everything you actually did when you played out the game to determine what happened.  So if in game a combat situation comes up and you try and play by the rules of the game to resolve the conflict that's not the entirety of system.  The system includes things that most games dont really resolve such as where all the combatants were in relation to each other when combat broke out, what the conditions were in terms that may cause penalties like lighting cover and obstacles, are there any objects that can be used as improvised weapons. The system includes determining all these things and how and by who they are decided.  It may be by negotiation between players and gm, it could be up to the gm to decide or it may be determinable by expending resources.  All of it makes up system.  If you are using ad hoc decisions to determine what happened in the game then that is part of the system the game is using.  And yes Contra there is only one system and your definition nails it "People sit around and agree what happens in the game." That is exactly the definition of system the question is how do they get to the point of agreement.  If they dont agree about what happens in the game it's impossible to have a game.



Title: Re: Looking at the idea called 'system' again
Post by: contracycle on October 29, 2009, 09:32:50 PM
A few things need to be straightened out.  The System does matter article predates the Lumpley principle so what that article is talking about and what system has come to mean may not be exactly the same thing.   Look to the provisional glossary or better yet check out http://www.lumpley.com/opine.html

Well of course that begs the question, "has come to mean to whom, exactly?".

Quote
 It may be by negotiation between players and gm, it could be up to the gm to decide or it may be determinable by expending resources.  All of it makes up system.

Yes.  And each of those will be (or should be)  textually specified, and thus constitute system in the formal and organised sense.

Quote
   If you are using ad hoc decisions to determine what happened in the game then that is part of the system the game is using.   And yes Contra there is only one system and your definition nails it "People sit around and agree what happens in the game." That is exactly the definition of system the question is how do they get to the point of agreement.  If they dont agree about what happens in the game it's impossible to have a game.

I don't buy it.  If that is true, then the corollaries I have pointed out necessarily follow, and game design as such is a waste of everyones time and effort.  If all of RPG can be reduced to childhood make believe of the "there's a boogeyman in the closet!  And he has sharp dripping fangs!" variety then it has regressed to the point of nothingness.

If system is not organised, and cannot (or need not) be written, and cannot be reproduced by other people reading that text, then the very idea that systems can and do have different outcomes, and be built to produce particular kinds of experience, to address a potent premise or present a challenge, in short matter, is also invalidated.

I think you have a serious case of category confusion going on.  The rules of the road do not, of course, tell you how to drive in every specific situation, but they do provide a rule based method for figuring out what to do, or what to expect others will do, when you encounter real situations.  Of course in driving from point A to point B you will be required to make many ad hoc and specifically situational decisions, but those things do not supplant or invalidate the general rules of road conduct you have learned.   The ad hoc decisions you make are executed within the framework of, and with reference to, the general systematic rules.  "You steer the car to get where you're going" is not a useful method by which to determine who should give way at a roundabout.

I think you have drawn completely the wrong conclusion from the valid observation that not all operational rules are explicit.  You seem to have concluded that therefore any decision carries the same weight as a rule, whereas what should have been concluded is that the non-explicit rules should be identified and made explicit.


Title: Re: Looking at the idea called 'system' again
Post by: Caldis on October 30, 2009, 07:54:47 AM
I think you have a serious case of category confusion going on.  The rules of the road do not, of course, tell you how to drive in every specific situation, but they do provide a rule based method for figuring out what to do, or what to expect others will do, when you encounter real situations.  Of course in driving from point A to point B you will be required to make many ad hoc and specifically situational decisions, but those things do not supplant or invalidate the general rules of road conduct you have learned.   The ad hoc decisions you make are executed within the framework of, and with reference to, the general systematic rules.  "You steer the car to get where you're going" is not a useful method by which to determine who should give way at a roundabout.

That's the thing though.  There are rules of road conduct and they govern how you should act on the road however does anyone follow all of them all the time?  If we want to look at how someone is driving do we look at the laws of the road and then determine that obviously this is the way the person is driving?  If the person drives for years, speeds, parks illegal, doesnt shoulder check but has always gotten to work and back how safe without causing any accidents cant we say that he has a system where sometimes he follows the rules and sometimes he ignores them?  It's repeatable, he's done it multiple times and it always works out despite no written rules that show exactly how he was driving.

In a more role play fashion.  I've played several games basically free form.  We get together come up with ideas and run with them.  When characters come into conflict we've sometimes negotiated the outcome or sometimes we'd roll dice and compare to help us decide what happened.  There are no written rules anywhere but we are able to resolve what's happening in the game, we have some kind of system going on since we're able to do it repeatedly.

Maybe system is the wrong word maybe it should be thought of as process because essentially that's what we are talking about.  What steps happen that take us from point a to point b and this is why design is important, why system matters, and where creative agenda comes in.  You cant just look at the mechanics of a game and think you have everything figured out.  You can try and make mechanics that tell you exactly how to play but if you dont also tell the person what the goal of the game is they're quite likely to abuse them or misuse them.   If you only consider the mechanics of a game system then you are missing out on what's going on simply because no one has created a mechanic for it before such as setting and situation creation which are absent in the vast majority of games.



Title: Re: Looking at the idea called 'system' again
Post by: contracycle on October 30, 2009, 12:10:34 PM
That's the thing though.  There are rules of road conduct and they govern how you should act on the road however does anyone follow all of them all the time?  If we want to look at how someone is driving do we look at the laws of the road and then determine that obviously this is the way the person is driving?  If the person drives for years, speeds, parks illegal, doesnt shoulder check but has always gotten to work and back how safe without causing any accidents cant we say that he has a system where sometimes he follows the rules and sometimes he ignores them?  It's repeatable, he's done it multiple times and it always works out despite no written rules that show exactly how he was driving.

No.  even someone doing all those things benefits from the prevailing system, because they make other driovers predictable.  Even if he, individually, doesn't always drive on the correct side of the road, the fact that everyone else does means the roads as a whole are not one huge traffic jam of random drivers.

Quote
In a more role play fashion.  I've played several games basically free form.  We get together come up with ideas and run with them.  When characters come into conflict we've sometimes negotiated the outcome or sometimes we'd roll dice and compare to help us decide what happened.  There are no written rules anywhere but we are able to resolve what's happening in the game, we have some kind of system going on since we're able to do it repeatedly.

Sure; but I bet you could write them down if pushed, just as you have attempted to describe them here.  I've played games myself not too dissimilar, in which the only really functional rule was that thr GM had all authority.  But that was the rule, and we all knew it and were all signed up to it.

Quote
Maybe system is the wrong word maybe it should be thought of as process because essentially that's what we are talking about.  What steps happen that take us from point a to point b and this is why design is important, why system matters, and where creative agenda comes in.  You cant just look at the mechanics of a game and think you have everything figured out.  You can try and make mechanics that tell you exactly how to play but if you dont also tell the person what the goal of the game is they're quite likely to abuse them or misuse them.   If you only consider the mechanics of a game system then you are missing out on what's going on simply because no one has created a mechanic for it before such as setting and situation creation which are absent in the vast majority of games.

That is not the problem.  The problem is that you are failing to distinguish between the process, whatever it may be, and the decisions made according to that process.  Thus "how you do things" and "what you actually do" have become an inchoate mass.  In your schema, the "steps... that take us from point a to point b" can't be separated out from the fact that a happened and b happened.  Instead of a and b being indicators or results of system at work, they have become manifestations of system itself.


Title: Re: Looking at the idea called 'system' again
Post by: Callan S. on October 30, 2009, 02:41:55 PM
All right. This is probably gonna get me into arguments, but what the hell.

There is no such thing as "shit just happening." If something happens, it happens because something caused it to happen. Gravity, momentum, Newton's second law of mechanics, and conservation of energy caused the beach balls to behave as they did (what causes gravity, et al? Fuck if I know, but before we get into anything like that, such theoretical physics are a bit beyond our scope here, yes?).

Likewise, if some people are sitting around a table, anything that happens at that table happens because one or more of them caused it to happen.

Such a collection of causes and their effects, and the events that prompt causes into action, among a specific group of players for a specific unit of play comprises a specific System (as defined by the LP). Therefore there is no way for System to not exist. There is no way for things to happen at the table without someone causing them to happen.
Bold mine.

This is probably the core dissonance here, Marshall - you've switched from 'something', to 'someone'. Treated them interchangeably, just as I was talking before about confusing and mixing up darwinistic system and man made system.

Is someone at the table causing gravity to exist? Is someone at the table causing momentum to exist? No. But none the less you say gravity exists, and you call that a system - then you go on to use that as support in saying "There is no way for things to happen at the table without someone causing them to happen". There's no way for gravity to happen at the table, without someone causing it to happen? No, the system of gravity and momentum and sound waves, etc goes on and on regardless of whatever anyone at the table causes to happen. Indeed, sound waves stimulating auditory nerves, stimulating synapses, simulating vocal cords, vocal chords making sound waves, sound waves stimulating auditory nerves...it all keeps on keeping on even if no one causes it to.

There being a darwinistic system involved at the table is in no way an indicator or evidence that there is a man made system at the table.

But your post starts off trying to prove that a system of physics exists (which I'd agree with that proof). But then you try and use that to try and prove there's always a system between men at the table.

The system of physics 'allow' me to lift a sword and hack a man down to bloody kindling, to give a OTT but clear example. There is a darwinistic system between me and the man. Is there a man made system between me and him? And by that I mean is there a moral system between me and him? The system of physics allow all sorts of amoral activities. If you don't draw a line between the system of physics and a system for men to live by, your moral code will start to erode. Because without a distinction, you start to treat all physically possible acts as moral ones. And so you get the painball gun, or the 'spoofing' of the GM, etc.

Indeed I think it's rather like the brain damage hypothesis - where peoples sense of story can be eroded and perhaps even destroyed by repeated exposure to something that says it's story, but isn't. Same with repeated exposure to something that says it's system, but is nothing more than raw, amoral physics. But that's probably a long draw of the bow - feel free to ignore this paragraph.



Hi Caldis,

Quote
I think you guys are getting messed up because you are thinking of system as something you use to help you play out a session.
How about this - I'm giving the nod and acknowledging you think this is the case. In return, will you give the nod and acknowledge that I think your confusing two types of system for the one? I'm thinking if we can establish atleast that mutual acknowledgement, that's something and A: if we stop, we stopped on something, which is good or B: if we continue, its something to continue from. But if there is no return acknowledgement, there's nothing to continue from.


Title: Re: Looking at the idea called 'system' again
Post by: JoyWriter on October 31, 2009, 07:21:46 PM
Hoo boy, it is the word police! Well at least we're still trying to act for the benefit of other human beings, and that should give us something to work with.

Callan, you make a valuable point about the dangers of stating a system; it can encourage people to stick with crap just cos they have a name for it. Why? Because people can confuse structure for necessity; just because a group of people do create a repeating or continuous pattern of behaviour, doesn't mean that's the only way for them to do it. That sort of fatalism is what can be really dangerous about creating a picture of the world, but they can be a force for change, because even if the picture was true a moment ago, the very fact that you can see it now means that the pattern itself may change.

That's one important reason why it is valuable to spot patterns in behaviour, whether pre-arranged or otherwise, because you can change it.

Another good reason is because as you suggest, you can see an awesome series of events that happened, and try to replicate them.

But there is no need to fear "systems". So to answer your very first question, yes a verbal abusive man on a train + your lack of response to it, or a husband who physically abuses his wife, and her response to it, or a GM who damages your investment in a game + your response to it, can be considered a set of systems, with potentially quite different dynamics. Not from the (perhaps fictional) "forge consensus" perspective, but from any number of people out there who model social structure. But those structures might not be fixed, there may be ways to resolve them, and perhaps recognising their structure and their persistence will help to remove both of them. The assignment of blame wouldn't change, but maybe it wouldn't happen again.

And I wouldn't push the brain damage idea too far either, a simpler explanation of why people "already have story" is because your words are butting into each other. Perhaps in deference to their language you could say "a better kind of story, which I find so much better I don't call the other stuff story at all", or the same for system. You may find when you start comparing your's and their' versions of story and system, that you both have something to learn from each other, and their not brain damaged so much as unconvinced.

Contracycle, generality is only dangerous if we stop there; we do not complain about all books being in the same library because "I got a book from the library" is not a very informative statement. In the same way, a general definition of what happens in a game is only a problem if it stops there, and we say "stuff happens, hallelujah" or something equally uninformative. The alternative is to look at different kinds of system (subdividing like looking through the library's filing system), and ask which are better, and if the better ones can be shared etc. For example, supposedly David Donachie GMs his game Solipsist very well, but other people can't get the same goodness out of it. If the definition of system is broad enough, we have a big net to catch facts about how he GMs, and develop explicit systems from them.

Now when you compare explicit systems to inexplicit ones, a funny thing occurs; sometimes following rules that specify your entire behaviour doesn't result in the same experience for those doing it. In the beach balls example, replaying a series of events is basically just setting up the original starting situation again and letting it run to it's conclusion, or it is constraining a different pattern of change to the previous one, perhaps with lots of guiding wires attached to the balls.

This is a challenge I have experienced in game design, sometimes it's not about getting someone to replicate what someone else did, as that will only lead to external correctness, but about getting them to the same place or a similar one to that of the original you are modelling, more like method acting or something. I expect that such additional structures are irrelevant for those who can already do the core thing they are supposed to encourage, so I also hope to build them so that they fold away as neatly as possible when not in use. Tricky!


I wouldn't be surprised if almost no-one takes issue with the rather simple idea that we can do things unconsciously or consciously, and we don't pick out and choose every event that happens by perfect scanning of the future. The full consequences of events are almost always more than we plan, than the human activity systems we agree to between each other. I don't think labouring this point will solve the disagreement, because I'm not sure if anyone was making this error to any substantial extent.

I think we could however pick out some interesting stuff about the difference between tolerance and agreement, and predictive capacity in decision-making.


Title: Re: Looking at the idea called 'system' again
Post by: Callan S. on October 31, 2009, 10:24:32 PM
Josh, if I wasn't, for example, word police, but you went on to post as if I absolutely were... well, in that example atleast, you'd be being disruptive. And willfully so, since it'd be ignoring any possiblity of being wrong on that and so deliberately acting in a way that doesn't match the situation.

Summing up in short form, if you treat both
A: Going into a store, handing someone money and taking from them some milk and bread
B: Going into a store with a knife, opening the till, taking money and leaving
as being 'system' in the same tone, equally, without caveat, then you are speaking about them as being equal and the same. As you treat them, so they become - either in other people that hear you or in your own eyes. If you treat them equally, so they, over time, will become equal.

Also it's possible this is occuring only because of some oversight/theory of mind issue. I think it's possible to ask for consent through body language alone. And I think if you miss the fact that asking and giving happened, you might start to think you don't have to ask for consent all the time, as if you can just do X sans that body language ask. I think we also often have loose, overall understandings of behaviour between people in our various cultures, that they were raised with and essentially consent to (well, I'll say 'essentially' to keep this simple). I think if you miss the fact these exist and are in action at the gaming table (as well as everywhere else), you might start thinking the smelly chamberlain example shows you don't always need constantly reinforced consensus and is an example of that, even though because of those prior understandings existance, your essentially bathing in constantly reinforced consensus.

Take this quote from Ron
Quote
We mean something more like "get" in the informal sense of the word, or "run with from now on," or even "stay consistent with from now on, at least close enough for government work."
If you want to really look at system, you'll see that this isn't describing how something works to me, it's asking me to 'get' it. And in asking, it's asking me to consent to 'getting' it. That's the actual system that's happening.

Yet if everyone thinks they are describing something that exists, rather than in describing something and in doing so, asking consent to it - if they don't recognise they are asking consent...well, I think maybe you get the smelly chamberlain thread. Whole bunches of people thinking they are talking about system when really the system is that they are asking each others consent to a certain procedure.


Title: Re: Looking at the idea called 'system' again
Post by: JoyWriter on November 01, 2009, 07:34:26 AM
And willfully so, since it'd be ignoring any possiblity of being wrong on that and so deliberately acting in a way that doesn't match the situation.

Like this d'you mean:

That's one important reason why it is valuable to spot patterns in behaviour, whether pre-arranged or otherwise, because you can change it.

Another good reason is because as you suggest, you can see an awesome series of events that happened, and try to replicate them.

....
 can be considered a set of systems, with potentially quite different dynamics.

as being 'system' in the same tone, equally, without caveat, then you are speaking about them as being equal and the same.

I've not only distinguished between those patterns we want to preserve and those we want to change, I've suggested that the abusive ones might themselves be distinguishable from each other!

If you want to really look at system, you'll see that this isn't describing how something works to me, it's asking me to 'get' it. And in asking, it's asking me to consent to 'getting' it. That's the actual system that's happening.

I've invited you to do loads of things in this thread, all focused on bridging between what other people think and what you think, no dodgy power-knowledge stuff.

And in case you haven't got my point from above:

... That's the actual system that's happening.

Yet if everyone thinks they are describing something that exists, rather than in describing something and in doing so, asking consent to it - if they don't recognise they are asking consent...well, I think maybe you get the smelly chamberlain thread. Whole bunches of people thinking they are talking about system when really the system is that they are asking each others consent to a certain procedure.

Are they? Could you be wrong on that?

If they weren't for example, requiring consent, but you went on to post as if they absolutely were, would you be being disruptive?

Your logic applies to yourself!


Title: Re: Looking at the idea called 'system' again
Post by: JoyWriter on November 01, 2009, 07:36:54 AM
Oh and by the way that last post is the consequence of hitting post instead of preview, I'll have a more substantial post up within the next few days!


Title: Re: Looking at the idea called 'system' again
Post by: Callan S. on November 01, 2009, 02:05:27 PM
Quote
I've not only distinguished between those patterns we want to preserve and those we want to change, I've suggested that the abusive ones might themselves be distinguishable from each other!
I honestly can't see you distinguishing between what you want to preserve and what you want to change (and by change I assume you mean remove). Even when you say you want to preserve awesome series of events, I can't honestly see you saying you would also remove things you thought morally iffy (and I mean even atleast by your own moral code, rather than by mine or some general one). You just talk about different dynamics, not right and wrong.

So maybe I'm not reading very well, or you just don't bring a moral compass to bear on this. Perhaps you think things are awesome as in fun, but you don't think along the lines of 'Well, that was awesome...but that little thing we did where we consipired to ignore the rules, that's a bit iffy/murky. I wonder if there is some way, different to how we did it, that we can have that awesome without the iffy?'.

Given the tone I percieve (percieve, as in perception, which is capable of failure) in your last post, you'd be betting on me not reading well. But if that's so, I'd not read any further responces very well either.

Quote
I've invited you to do loads of things in this thread, all focused on bridging between what other people think and what you think, no dodgy power-knowledge stuff.
I described what might be a genuine mistake and failure to perceive oneself asking consent. I accused no one of manipulation at all. Indeed it was supposed to be an olive branch, or atleast a probable olive branch, that perhaps this hinges on an innocent error? Ideally it would have gone "Oh hey, Callan, I hadn't thought in describing something in particular I might actually be asking for consent to it...I'm not taking it as true right now, but I'll chew it over!" and I'd go "Cheers!"

Quote
Are they? Could you be wrong on that?
That's why I used "it's possible" and you can even see the 'maybe' in your quote of me.

But with Ron, that's the interesting part and what prompted me to post probably too quickly...
When I say 'that's the actual system that's happening' then I'm describing the system, at it's current point, between me and Ron.

The interesting thing is that if I am wrong on what he was doing, then there is no system between us. Or no single system - he'd be running off some pattern of doing things, I'd be running off another pattern of doing things. Given the wide use of system here, you could call that clash of patterns 'system', but then again you could call two cars smashing into each other, as it's happening, system, with that broad a notion of system.

In terms of being disruptive, if myself and Ron were actually two patterns crashing against each other at that point, I don't think I could get more disruptive than has already happened. And yet everyone wants to call that crashing 'system', with no moral distinguishment. So if you want to call me disruptive, as in something morally iffy, go ahead, but then equally you'd have to name the smelly chamberlain thread examples that too, rather than just calling them 'system' without caveat and without tone.


Title: Re: Looking at the idea called 'system' again
Post by: contracycle on November 03, 2009, 10:14:57 AM
Contracycle, generality is only dangerous if we stop there; we do not complain about all books being in the same library because "I got a book from the library" is not a very informative statement. In the same way, a general definition of what happens in a game is only a problem if it stops there, and we say "stuff happens, hallelujah" or something equally uninformative. The alternative is to look at different kinds of system (subdividing like looking through the library's filing system), and ask which are better, and if the better ones can be shared etc. For example, supposedly David Donachie GMs his game Solipsist very well, but other people can't get the same goodness out of it. If the definition of system is broad enough, we have a big net to catch facts about how he GMs, and develop explicit systems from them.

My problem with this approach is that you end up in a situation in which you can't distinguish between the fact of Alice being seated next to Bob, and a game using FATE as opposed FITM.  It is indeed possible that Alice being seated next to Bob in some way contributed to the overall happiness of the group and the ability for the game to play succesfully, but this is totally beyond the scope of system.  "Everything you do if you had fun" is far, far too broad a net.  The defintion needs to be restricted to things that actually did influence play and impacted the IS.  If it didn't do that, it's almost certainly something far too local to draw a principle from.  There is indeed stuff that "just happens" in a game and in which there is no deeper secret to be teased out.  There may be any number of personal or social influences to a game that are frankly beyond the remit of system.

Yes indeed, as I have agreed, it is worthwhile looking at what people did implicitly, and which they may not have recognised to be decisions constituting real system.  But I repeat, it's worth looking; it's not worth assuming that everything they did is system simply because it happened.


Title: Re: Looking at the idea called 'system' again
Post by: Caldis on November 03, 2009, 10:37:42 AM

I think there are two discussions happening here and that's a big part of the confusion.  Contra, I think where we may be getting messed up is related to the example with the paintball guns.  Is shooting someone with a paintball part of system if everything in the SIS has already been resolved?  No, it's not part of system it's tangentially related like color in the earlier discussion that lead to this.  Do the people playing have a system? Yes if they are able to construct events in the SIS and resolve them and everyone agrees what happened then they have a system.  The paintball gun is irrelevant to system, it exists more on the social contract level.

Callan on the other hand is arguing that there is no system, even though there is evidence that things have been resolved.


Title: Re: Looking at the idea called 'system' again
Post by: Marshall Burns on November 03, 2009, 10:57:10 AM
This is probably the core dissonance here, Marshall - you've switched from 'something', to 'someone'. Treated them interchangeably, just as I was talking before about confusing and mixing up darwinistic system and man made system.

Is someone at the table causing gravity to exist? Is someone at the table causing momentum to exist?

For fuck's sake, this is getting ridiculous.

When I say "at the table" I mean "in the context of this thing that we call roleplaying." All the events that happens in-game? They don't exist. Nothing happens to the fiction unless the people imagining it (US) cause it to happen. The process by which we cause it to happen is what is termed "System." For there to be any possibility at all that System might not exist, you'd have to establish that things can happen in the SIS without people causing them to happen. Which is plainly impossible.

The only things that "just happen" (in relation to the System of play) physically, literally "at the table" are elements of Social Contract. Which may or may not feed into the actual roleplaying. If they do, it is because someone allowed them to.

Summing up in short form, if you treat both
A: Going into a store, handing someone money and taking from them some milk and bread
B: Going into a store with a knife, opening the till, taking money and leaving
as being 'system' in the same tone, equally, without caveat, then you are speaking about them as being equal and the same. As you treat them, so they become - either in other people that hear you or in your own eyes. If you treat them equally, so they, over time, will become equal.

A good System and a bad System are both a System. This does not make them equal. Both are Systems, but one is good and the other is bad. Ejecting bad Systems from the status of "System" is nonsense and accomplishes nothing.

Arrg. Callan, I don't mean to be uncivil, but, sometimes when I'm talking to you, I feel like I'm talking to Derrida programmed into a computer. Which I find incredibly aggravating.


Title: Re: Looking at the idea called 'system' again
Post by: Callan S. on November 03, 2009, 02:57:31 PM
Quote
When I say "at the table" I mean "in the context of this thing that we call roleplaying." All the events that happens in-game? They don't exist. Nothing happens to the fiction unless the people imagining it (US) cause it to happen. The process by which we cause it to happen is what is termed "System." For there to be any possibility at all that System might not exist, you'd have to establish that things can happen in the SIS without people causing them to happen. Which is plainly impossible.

"A shapely woman rushes up to you and rips open her blouse...."


What, where did your mind go? I didn't mention exposed bra or breasts. Nor did you decide to imagine bra or exposed breast...you just did. As much as if I crept up behind you and popped a baloon, you'd flinch without deciding to, so too can your imagination operate without anyone prompting it. Including yourself. And so yeah, people can keep talking at the table even without deciding too. Just as much as your dreams can come at night without you deciding they will, or deciding their contents.

Or it's plainly impossible.

Now my own 'Oh for fucks sake, this is fucking rediculous' is that this is like talking to someone who firmly believes wrestling is real, rather than talking to someone who knows it isn't, but enjoys humouring the idea it is. Rather than talking to someone who can enjoy that their imagination runs away with them, and understands that in running away, there's no system there except a biomechanical/darwinistic one, yet have found they enjoy it anyway. But I keep talking to people who, apparently, when their imagination lurches forward from stimulous, they call it their own decision to do so. They shake their chains and assert their imagination is one who's chained, to them...and hotly deny that when imagination yanks hard enough, imagination decides where they go and they are chained to it. Chain runs both ways.

Quote
A good System and a bad System are both a System. This does not make them equal. Both are Systems, but one is good and the other is bad. Ejecting bad Systems from the status of "System" is nonsense and accomplishes nothing.
If you must use some, to my mind, awkward method of calling them both system but then quickly following up with which is bad and which is good, fair enough! I think it's clumsy, but it'd probably get the job done most of the time, none the less, I will grant. But I've not been seeing that or anything like it happening. I've just seen a total lack of distinction made between people acting upon each other and acting with each other. You could write that off as repeated poor comprehension on my part, or alternatively perhaps I identified it correctly. I'm not interested in deciding which is the case for you or is merely humoured as the case and chewed over briefly for you, but I am interested in providing evidence.


Caldis,
Quote
Callan on the other hand is arguing that there is no system, even though there is evidence that things have been resolved.
Hold on, haven't you been saying raw physics counts as system?

If it did count, it wouldn't matter if things are resolved or even unresolved amongst people at the table. By that measure, it'd still be a system.

Or are you adopting some sort of view that raw physics are not enough to qualify as system? And now your speaking in terms of there being things resolved, as evidence of systems existance? Adopting just for this thread or such...I'm not implying your fully adopting it or anything.


Title: Re: Looking at the idea called 'system' again
Post by: Caldis on November 03, 2009, 10:09:46 PM
Hold on, haven't you been saying raw physics counts as system?

If it did count, it wouldn't matter if things are resolved or even unresolved amongst people at the table. By that measure, it'd still be a system.

Or are you adopting some sort of view that raw physics are not enough to qualify as system? And now your speaking in terms of there being things resolved, as evidence of systems existance? Adopting just for this thread or such...I'm not implying your fully adopting it or anything.

I"m getting to the point Marshall mentions so I'll give this one last shot and I'm done.

If the raw physics resolves the imaginary events then yes it's part of system.  If it doesnt resolve the imaginary events it's not part of system.  So with the paintball, if shooting the player after his character has been shot decides nothing in the SIS then it's not part of system.  If shooting a player with a paintball and how the player reacts determines what happens in the SIS then it's part of system.  Alternatively you could be using the paintball gun to determine if a character has been hit by having the gm try to shoot the player.  If it decides what happens in the SIS then it is part of system.

It's all there in the Lumpley principle.


Title: Re: Looking at the idea called 'system' again
Post by: Marshall Burns on November 04, 2009, 12:39:27 PM
Callan,
I could start arguing that we can and do, indeed, control and decide our imagination and dreams, even if not always consciously (which, as far as I'm concerned, in no way absolves responsibility). That would be nothing but a big shitfight. Luckily, I don't have to, because it's completely irrelevant.

What I'm imagining, on my own, is not the thing here. What goes into the SIS, that's the issue. If you accept "roleplaying" as the act of creating and developing an SIS, then System (as defined by the Lumpley Principle) is the means by which a group decides what goes into the SIS and what doesn't. If I imagine something and someone else doesn't, then it ain't in the SIS, and is in fact not relevant to play, at all*, until I utilize System to introduce it to the SIS and make it relevant.

* Do some people get kicks out of imagining this stuff anyway? Apparently. I don't think it's a good idea. But that phenomenon isn't pertinent if we're talking about the group activity of "roleplaying."


Title: Re: Looking at the idea called 'system' again
Post by: Callan S. on November 04, 2009, 06:20:31 PM
Hmm, how does that tie in with the million and one AP accounts out there (and this is even noted way back in T&T) that go something like
"Hey, how'd the dragon breath fire on me? I'm standing way over here!?"
"No, your standing over there"
"If I'd known that I would have run way over here!"
"Well, your there and your burnt!"

I'd say that proves unshared imagination matters to play. Or are you saying if the player put his foot down and did not accept that he was standing over there/did not, along with everyone else, also imagine his PC was standing over there, are you saying he'd have no consequence. Ie he'd not be burnt by the dragon. And so your saying that unless everyone imagines it, it's not relevant to play?


Title: Re: Looking at the idea called 'system' again
Post by: Caldis on November 04, 2009, 09:35:15 PM

Callan,

Can play continue if they never resolve where the character actually was?  Somehow that has to happen or else the game falls apart.  You cant have a player saying his character wasnt burnt by the dragon while the GM says he was.  Either they resolve it in some manner, negotiation, ret-con, someone gives in or else the game has reached an impasse and can not continue.  How they do that is the system in use.


Title: Re: Looking at the idea called 'system' again
Post by: Callan S. on November 05, 2009, 04:00:26 AM
Well, yes, play could continue. I'm imagining some mechanics where if the GM and player can't agree where the character is, he takes half damage from the dragon breath. Whether he's here or over there is not resolved at all, yet the procedure for gameplay can continue to be followed (he takes half damage), even though the imagined state is left unresolved.

What's really interesting here is the very different emphasis - compare the following:
* Play can't continue because we did not resolve where the character is, fiction wise
Vs
* Play can't continue because someone is not following the rules. Playing with a fractured fiction is fine (say that five times fast!), but if people wont follow rules, play cannot continue.

It seems to be the fiction first/rules first divide. Which kind of was discussed here (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=27171.15;wap2), once.

I think I do understand what your getting at with the sense that play can't continue until this thing on where the guy is, is resolved. I can see that as being the hurdle to get over. But I can also switch perspective and see it as nothing all that important and it's whether people are following rules, assuming there are any to follow, that matters and the fiction can stay fractured and that's no biggy - the show/play goes on regardless. I can mentally flick between the two emphasis...though my own preference is the latter.

I imagine that if your emphasis is on the former where play can't continue until that fiction is resolved, my half damage rule from above probably seems anathema, perhaps provoking a responce like "Who cares if you can keep following some darn procedure! Where is the guy!? Where is he...you can't go on like that!". Indeed it's probably seen by many as the feature of roleplay as a hobby, in that play can't go on without an intact fictional package.

Maybe it is, historically, I don't know. Certainly this discussion of system seems very much fiction first/play can't continue unless the fiction is resolved.


Title: Re: Looking at the idea called 'system' again
Post by: Caldis on November 05, 2009, 07:03:54 AM
Well, yes, play could continue. I'm imagining some mechanics where if the GM and player can't agree where the character is, he takes half damage from the dragon breath. Whether he's here or over there is not resolved at all, yet the procedure for gameplay can continue to be followed (he takes half damage), even though the imagined state is left unresolved.

This is resolving the events in the SIS.  It may not answer where exactly the character was but it does resolve what happened, he was at least partially damaged by the fire.  This is system and it works exactly as per definition and the same as your earlier example where you didnt agree with the gm's ruling but let it go.  Even here you have both parties agreeing on what happened or the game breaks down.  If one side doesnt agree with using your solution then the game still cant continue.


Title: Re: Looking at the idea called 'system' again
Post by: Marshall Burns on November 05, 2009, 10:38:19 AM
Hmm, how does that tie in with the million and one AP accounts out there (and this is even noted way back in T&T) that go something like
"Hey, how'd the dragon breath fire on me? I'm standing way over here!?"
"No, your standing over there"
"If I'd known that I would have run way over here!"
"Well, your there and your burnt!"

I'd say that proves unshared imagination matters to play. Or are you saying if the player put his foot down and did not accept that he was standing over there/did not, along with everyone else, also imagine his PC was standing over there, are you saying he'd have no consequence. Ie he'd not be burnt by the dragon. And so your saying that unless everyone imagines it, it's not relevant to play?

That proves that those people weren't communicating and/or listening to each other very well.

By the way, I don't there is a fiction first/rules first divide. "Fiction first" is a rule, and an element of System when it is used.


Title: Re: Looking at the idea called 'system' again
Post by: Callan S. on November 05, 2009, 12:01:34 PM
Well, yes, play could continue. I'm imagining some mechanics where if the GM and player can't agree where the character is, he takes half damage from the dragon breath. Whether he's here or over there is not resolved at all, yet the procedure for gameplay can continue to be followed (he takes half damage), even though the imagined state is left unresolved.

This is resolving the events in the SIS.  It may not answer where exactly the character was but it does resolve what happened, he was at least partially damaged by the fire.  This is system and it works exactly as per definition and the same as your earlier example where you didnt agree with the gm's ruling but let it go.
There are two things in terms of fiction - where the guy is standing, and whether he gets fire on him. Only the latter is resolved. The former is unresolved, the two people do not agree and are not imagining the same thing at all. Play goes on regardless, as the procedure handles this. They both agree to that procedure, but fiction wise they do not both agree to where the PC was standing.

And with my own example, your starting to tell me what I agreed to. Your obviously not the one to tell me that. I didn't 'let it go' - I didn't agree with his fiction. I agreed with the golden rule invocation.

But I'm thinking your going to keep ascribing my agreement to the golden rule with some sort of fictional connection, and thus linking my agreement with fiction. But this is just you deciding what I agreed to.

Can you give me a short AP example of you playing any old boardgame - I'll point out you following the procedure in it, without getting some agreements on fiction. Then you'll know I was doing exactly what you did in the boardgame, at that point.

Quote
Even here you have both parties agreeing on what happened or the game breaks down.  If one side doesnt agree with using your solution then the game still cant continue.
Boardgames continue all the time without anyone agreeing on some fiction. That's exactly what I'm describing, but you keep wanting to say the game went on because we patched over the fiction together. We didn't. It was a boardgame moment. And I'll note how a number of indie games coming out are kind of boardgamey - it's indicative that total dedication to fiction perhaps isn't the be all and end all.


Title: Re: Looking at the idea called 'system' again
Post by: Caldis on November 05, 2009, 02:02:20 PM

So once you agreed to the golden rule interpretation what happened with the fiction?  Your character wasnt able to shoot his gun at the same time as he loaded the weapon.  You may not have agreed with the ruling but you accepted it.  There is no your version of events that happened and the version the gm used there is only the version you both accepted, you werent able to shoot and load.  Likewise in the Dragon example you've both accepted the character was close enough to be damaged by the flames, we may not agree on where exactly the character was but if it doesnt affect the resolution or the action it's a disagreement about color not system.


Title: Re: Looking at the idea called 'system' again
Post by: Callan S. on November 05, 2009, 08:20:02 PM
Jeez man, you really are explicitly telling me what I've agreed with!

If some tribe had a law that said I had to wear a red sash upon first visiting their village, because otherwise bad spirits come, and I wear the red sash, does that mean I agree that their bad spirit exists? Or that I just agree to abide by their laws?

Your projecting spirits onto procedure, then telling me that as I've agreed to the procedure and it's resolutions, I've agreed to the spirits.

I agreed to the golden rule procedure outcome - I did not agree to some fictional level that anyone else projected onto it or it's outcome, or that you are projecting onto it right now. And the guys in my dragon example, they are doing the same - they do not agree on fiction, they just agree to the procedure to continue with. Your just blatantly making stuff up now when you say they agree 'he was close enough'. They did not. I should know as it's my example, but your actually telling me what the guys in it have agreed to.

Or are you gunna keep saying "You put on the sash! You've agreed there are spirits!"?

And your first questions a loaded one - "what happened with the fiction?". The questions asserting that one single 'the fiction' existed. It's like asking me "Where were you on the night of the murder you commited?"...bit hard to answer that one without simply admitting something that isn't true. Similarly I can't answer your question without admitting your premise that there was one single fiction, because the question is rigged that way.


Title: Re: Looking at the idea called 'system' again
Post by: Caldis on November 05, 2009, 08:52:51 PM

I cant add anything else here.  All I can say is what did happen in the game.  Was your character able to shoot and load at the same time like you wanted?  Did that happen?  Did you get to move on to the next step that would happen in a game if your character was allowed to fire his gun?  Did you roll to hit?  There is no multiple fictions here, I'm sorry but you are deluding yourself if you think otherwise.   Only one thing happened you loaded the rifle and continued with the game as the gm ruled. 


Title: Re: Looking at the idea called 'system' again
Post by: Callan S. on November 06, 2009, 08:31:29 PM
If X = 0, spend one Y to put the value of X at the value of Z.

X is given the tag 'ammo', Y is given the tag 'attack' and Z is the maximum value of X.

It's quite easy to follow that procedure without agreeing to any fiction anyone else has in their pretty little head. Just like it's possible to play the card game 'lunch money', following the instructions without any fictional level at all, or follow the instructions, studiously ignoring any fiction that pops into anyone elses head. Eg, the 'big combo' card in lunch money, which does X amount of points, the instructions encourage you to describe the move. Does that mean the other person simply must have agreed with the description as being the one and only fiction? Or are they just nodding through and humouring how your imagination goes, as they follow the instructions?

But ultimately I'll put it this way - if I knew someone else was going to be absolutely certain I'm agreeing with their fiction when I'm not and I'm actually telling them I don't agree? I don't want to give that impression - so I'd pack up and leave. That simple. Take the 'reloading' thing - if the other people involved wont accept at that very point when it came up I don't agree with their fiction and there are two seperate, disparate fictions, I'd just pack up and leave. Not because anyones done anything bad, I just don't want to give the impression, by hanging around, that I agreed to something I didn't agree to. If you can't see I don't agree with your fiction, but if I stick around you'll have the impression I do agree? Then I'll leave. As soon as the GM says actually it still takes an attack to reload, I'll just say bye and leave then. I wont stick around and humour or support what is a false and deluded impression. To be honest, if I knew, I wouldn't play with such people to begin with. Not because they are bad, just because I don't want to humour their deluded impression of what I have agreed to.

I'm really dreading that somehow someone will take this to a pythonesque "Oh, even if you leave, you agreed to the fiction". Which brings all sorts of absurd comedy skits to mind "What if I pulled a gun and shot them all?" "Still agreed!" "Nuke?" "Still agreed!". Which would basically mean LP and 'system' are hotel california. But hopefully this is just a probability of what someone will say and one that just isn't the RL case.


Title: Re: Looking at the idea called 'system' again
Post by: rgrassi on November 10, 2009, 03:24:52 AM
IMVHO the word "system" as defined in the glossary generates a lot of misunderstanding.
In part because it's the only concept that takes the ownership to actually make the imagination come fictional truth.
Maybe, a better definition could be:
"System is whatever must occur between players in terms of explicit (written and not interpretable) or implicit (deduced by common sense or built-in in the human nature) game rules or social behaviours in order to agree to fictional events during play".
Rob


Title: Re: Looking at the idea called 'system' again
Post by: Callan S. on November 10, 2009, 07:29:40 AM
I think it needs to be defined as existing, based on something that is physically detectable. The original iterations of the lumpley principle rested on negotiation, which is fairly detectable at a physical level.

Otherwise you could say invisible fairies are at the table whispering in ones ears and influencing what goes into the SIS, thus invisible fairies are part of system!!!1! "But you can't prove they aren't there, and I say they are there, so they are part of system, it's exactly as the definition says etc etc" And in strict symantics, it is part of the definition.

That might sound over the top, but that's how the smelly chamberlain, or the idea I agreed to the GM's fiction on reloading, appear to me. Based on things that are invisible and while they can't be proven, they also can't be disproven. And the inability to disprove them is enough 'proof' for many to take them as being the case. Although in the latter case, immediately leaving the table might be enough to disprove the notion.

'whatever' isn't enough. It allows the invisible fairies a way in. Or to be more exact, superstition. Currently the LP is allowing just that.


Title: Re: Looking at the idea called 'system' again
Post by: rgrassi on November 10, 2009, 07:42:27 AM
I see your point and it looks right to me.
"System is anything that must occur and is physically detectable between players in terms of explicit (written and not interpretable) or implicit (deduced by common sense or built-in in the human nature) game rules or social behaviours in order to agree to fictional events during play".

That could open the flank to "sensism" counter-arguments, but I hope not.
Rob


Title: Re: Looking at the idea called 'system' again
Post by: JoyWriter on November 10, 2009, 07:44:14 AM
I honestly can't see you distinguishing between what you want to preserve and what you want to change (and by change I assume you mean remove). Even when you say you want to preserve awesome series of events, I can't honestly see you saying you would also remove things you thought morally iffy (and I mean even atleast by your own moral code, rather than by mine or some general one). You just talk about different dynamics, not right and wrong.

Bloody hell, it's good to talk, aye!

Even from an under-edited outburst of mine we still seem to be able to get somewhere.

I think you probably have been misreading me, but I'm not putting any fault in that, it's just miscommunication. The wonder of repeated conversation is that we can sort some of that stuff.

Also it might be helpful to contrast all of these robberies and things with an actually healthy situation; have you referred to anything in this thread that you would consider right? Playing lunch money, yeah?

But with Ron, that's the interesting part and what prompted me to post probably too quickly...
When I say 'that's the actual system that's happening' then I'm describing the system, at it's current point, between me and Ron.

The interesting thing is that if I am wrong on what he was doing, then there is no system between us. Or no single system - he'd be running off some pattern of doing things, I'd be running off another pattern of doing things. Given the wide use of system here, you could call that clash of patterns 'system', but then again you could call two cars smashing into each other, as it's happening, system, with that broad a notion of system.

In terms of being disruptive, if myself and Ron were actually two patterns crashing against each other at that point, I don't think I could get more disruptive than has already happened. And yet everyone wants to call that crashing 'system', with no moral distinguishment. So if you want to call me disruptive, as in something morally iffy, go ahead, but then equally you'd have to name the smelly chamberlain thread examples that too, rather than just calling them 'system' without caveat and without tone.

Now I'm going to see if I can take a stab at defusing this right here, here's hoping aye!

So you've got a clash of two patterns right, your idea of the world + way of doing things and Ron's? And you feel that is a reasonable analogy (ie has important similarities) to the problems in the actual game you played?

Now what is that clash? Is it that you just don't want to use the word system, which he has suggested people use? No obviously not, because you've felt quite happy to distinguish different forms of systems in this thread. You've been happy to define "darwinian systems" which might have positive or negative effects on people.

So what is the problem? Is it that people are saying what they think without saying "it is my opinion that it is my opinion that..." etc at the start? If so there's an easy solution, just mentally append any number of the above to the start of people's opinions when reading them. But I doubt that is the core cause of your concern. :P

So is it that you have a view of the world, and you feel you are being asked to swallow someone else's theory without question?

There is actually a surprising amount of familiarity between learning a theory you don't necessarally agree with and the sort of agreement that Caldis has been referring to; in the case of the game, you can predict how you think things will go, and then say:
 
"Hey, how'd the dragon breath fire on me? I'm standing way over here!?"
"No, your standing over there"
"If I'd known that I would have run way over here!"
"Well, your there and your burnt!"

So there are two ideas of what is going on in the imaginary world, yours and his. Now you can choose to keep your version of events to yourself, and go "Ok if he was right, how would it go?" (I'm using quote marks there because we don't have thought marks in our language!). This hypothetical "if he was right" thing is one very impoverished version of what the Shared Imaginary Space is about, it's like "for the sake of argument I'll go with that and build off it as if it was right".

Now to illustrate that I'll go with a more give-and-take based example. Say the GM instead says

"Oh ok, in that case the dragon steps forward and breaths fire on you, you're burnt"

what makes the difference between those two examples? In the first case it's the golden rule "GM decides everything, if there is a disagreement his way goes", in the second case, the GM could be adding a rule by adjusting his own behaviour, deciding "but the GM will defer to players decisions within these parameters ........" in some inexplicit/unexact way.
That is the system people have been referring to. There's no silly stuff about telling you that all along you thought something different to what you do, that somehow the fact that you sat down to a game (or started discussing a theory with them) means they know the insider of your head better than you, instead they just want you to go along with something, and they will sometimes also go along with you (if they are willing to do give and take).

That is the kind of agreement people are talking about. (in my opinion in my opinion etc)

Now this is different to a car crash, it's not people going "whatever, your thing is nonsense" it's "what if your thing was true, what would it mean"?

You can go back to the start of this thread and see me suggesting that you provide an alternative, a way of looking at games so people can "pretend your view is true". Until then, there's no possibility of shared understanding, it's just "I don't think the same as you, maybe your wrong". Perhaps we're all wrong, but if you provide an alternative view then people can decide to try yours out, hypothetically, and compare it to their own one. Your starting to do this, which is great, but it's still board games or card games, not your own explanation of actual rpg sessions.

To get really practical, I'll now split to focus on the example you gave near the start about ammo and stuff, and then on us talking now (how self-referential!)

But ultimately I'll put it this way - if I knew someone else was going to be absolutely certain I'm agreeing with their fiction when I'm not and I'm actually telling them I don't agree? I don't want to give that impression - so I'd pack up and leave. That simple.

Is that what you did, in that game? Did you declare that you disagreed? And the game carried on anyway? And you didn't pack up and leave?

Did you start going "well if that is how reloading works, I'd have to do this"? That's what people are referring to, an agreement to build on something as if it was what actually happened. You might call it tolerating, and make a moral distinction between the two. But if so, what you call "tolerating", other people have included as part of "agreement". That's all, no confusion, just disagreement. What people maybe haven't seen though, is that you tolerated something you really didn't like. Why? You'd have to answer that. (if I'm right that I'm right that .....)

Now I thought I'd go onto referring to our conversation now but this is maybe already too weighty a post!


Title: Re: Looking at the idea called 'system' again
Post by: Callan S. on November 10, 2009, 04:56:54 PM
I see your point and it looks right to me.
"System is anything that must occur and is physically detectable between players in terms of explicit (written and not interpretable) or implicit (deduced by common sense or built-in in the human nature) game rules or social behaviours in order to agree to fictional events during play".

That could open the flank to "sensism" counter-arguments, but I hope not.
Rob
Hmmm, the thing about the implicit rules is that if you can physically detect them and the same rules are being used over and over with no new ones showing up, they are the same as explicit rules. As in they could all be written down and non interpretable, anyway. And the ones which seem to make more and more new rules coming from something unknown - well, that's a non physically detectable set of rules, since it's all originating from something you can't detect. It's like if the GM can give a bonus ranging from +1 to +4 to swing on a rope, that's physically detectable system. But how he decides what bonus, that's undetectable at a physical level (because if it became detectable, it would always be 'Well, if you do X you get +3' as a rule - and due to human whim and a lack of scary MRI technology, you cannot physically detect how he determines it).

From my observations, most implicit stuff falls into the latter, and thus can't be called system (with a defintion that requires physically detectable process), or it's detectable and may as well not be called implicit. So I dunno - that defintion seems clunky, yet I'd grant it works to a degree (kind of missinterpretable at the mo, imo).

I really appreciate that you looked at the physically detectable idea up close, thanks :)


Title: Re: Looking at the idea called 'system' again
Post by: Callan S. on November 10, 2009, 05:48:00 PM
Hi Josh,
Quote
Also it might be helpful to contrast all of these robberies and things with an actually healthy situation; have you referred to anything in this thread that you would consider right?
I think this would just change the topic. After all, that I think something is right, or that I even consider if something is right, is not, as far as I can tell, any reason for anyone else to. And if I talk about what I think is right, that'll get pointed out to me. Instead I'm just nakedly trying to prompt moral reflection (or find if it's there and I missed it) simply on the basis of do unto others and all that shit.

Quote
Now I'm going to see if I can take a stab at defusing this right here, here's hoping aye!
Well, no, I was trying to draw out the spark of moral outrage I thought I detected from you for a moment in terms of our mutual patterns perhaps clashing. Rather than get into describing it all as if it's part of normal, everyday life...which you then went on to do and ask me what the problem is.

The problem is that yourself and many others don't seem to have a problem with this stuff, or more exactly, show any reflection on whether something is a problem or not for yourself.

It reminds me of the T&T account Ron gave once where the players brought up the idea of buying a slave to take the hit from a bad curse a player was under. IIRC Ron was appaled, but the players were just in optimisation mode, no reflection on the morality of their actions (I am not critiquing that game, BTW). In terms of discussing 'system' here, all I'm seeing is optimising people, with no real moral level brought to the fore at all.

I'm seriously wondering if, like a computer memory leak, there's a morality leak here. Like, for example, it's okay for the T&T characters to do that...but what if a game has some sort of leak, where it goes from it being okay for characters to skip morals, to it being okay to spoof the GM and ignore rules you promised him you'd agree to? Somehow the sense of 'Oh, it's just a game' has slipped out of it's pen?

Quote
You can go back to the start of this thread and see me suggesting that you provide an alternative, a way of looking at games so people can "pretend your view is true". Until then, there's no possibility of shared understanding, it's just "I don't think the same as you, maybe your wrong". Perhaps we're all wrong, but if you provide an alternative view then people can decide to try yours out, hypothetically, and compare it to their own one. Your starting to do this, which is great, but it's still board games or card games, not your own explanation of actual rpg sessions.
Well, you seem to be insisting on absolute shared understanding, rather than shared understanding on following procedure and a possible absence of shared understanding in terms of fiction.

If you have to have both constantly, well, recognise that as your own need, rather than something that has to happen somehow. I've 'survived' many a boardgame without any fictional understanding - 'surviving' a lack of fiction understanding in an RPG is more of the same. Not to mention, Ralph Mazza, essentially a specialist in the simulationism field, put it: In my view 80+% of every RPG ever played by anyone actually occurs in the Unshared Imagined Space of each individual player. (http://www.lumpley.com/marginalia.php?entry=454&comment=12389)

I dunno, is everyone this way, needing absolute understanding on both rules AND fiction, at all times? I don't. And I've been talking as if to people who don't have to (they can want to have both, but don't have to). Bad assumption on my part?

Quote
Is that what you did, in that game? Did you declare that you disagreed? And the game carried on anyway? And you didn't pack up and leave?
Man, that's just lazy reading! IF I knew...I did not. C'mon!

Quote
Did you start going "well if that is how reloading works, I'd have to do this"? That's what people are referring to, an agreement to build on something as if it was what actually happened. You might call it tolerating, and make a moral distinction between the two. But if so, what you call "tolerating", other people have included as part of "agreement". That's all, no confusion, just disagreement.
I call that delusion - it isn't disagreement, because as you say in your example they think I totally agree with them. Someone isn't disagreeing with you when they are certain you agree with them but you don't. They are just deluded.

Anyway, it's wreckage - time to go sort of thing. Like if a chick tells herself you love her when you don't, it's time to leave rather than leave her like that. Though I totally grant some guys hang around in that circumstance and fuck such chicks for extended times. Lets call that a 'system' or 'relationship', eh? No, I'd rather not. But people seem to be doing that in regards to gaming.

Quote
What people maybe haven't seen though, is that you tolerated something you really didn't like. Why? You'd have to answer that. (if I'm right that I'm right that .....)
I don't actually have an issue with fractured fictions. Other peoples imaginations work in weird ways that mine doesn't. This happens in movies or books all the time - there's some fiction that just doesn't jive with me and I ignore it and just go with my own fiction till they jive again. No one else does this?


Title: Re: Looking at the idea called 'system' again
Post by: Caldis on November 12, 2009, 06:47:16 AM

Those personal views of the fiction are pretty much irrelevant.  Role playing is a form of social interaction where people are sharing their imagination.  When we look at game play we are looking at what was shared because that is out in the open.  What's going on inside the contributors mind, exactly how they see it, doesnt matter because we cant know that.  What we can know as a contributor or as an outside party watching is what was shared, what was communicated between the individuals what was seen to happen.   In your example a situation developed and combat broke out, you tried to have your character reload and fire in the same round in the same manner as the other characters had aimed and fired in the same round.   You proposed that he should be able to do so, the gm interpreted the rules against your intended action, play continued.  That was the system in action.


Title: Re: Looking at the idea called 'system' again
Post by: Callan S. on November 12, 2009, 01:49:12 PM
Caldis, that's slipping into 'Roleplay IS...' territory. It is not. It's just your own personal preference expressed. With some things you can say what it is, like 'fire is hot' or 'water is wet' and it's genuinely how things are. But those things physically exist - while roleplay is just an idea. As such it is not a case of what it 'IS' but what the idea can be, between us, if we both agree.

If you don't take that to be case and don't even humour any doubt as to being wrong on that (just humouring...even scientists humour the idea that the theory of evolution could be wrong), all I can do in terms of conversation is walk away. Because you'll just be taking my continued presence as some sort of support for this perception of yours.


Title: Re: Looking at the idea called 'system' again
Post by: Callan S. on November 12, 2009, 02:15:39 PM
Just to tie that in more, it's very easy to be right on a subject if you can keep inventing facts on what that subject 'IS' and that subject is A: Something that doesn't physically exist (it's a name for an invented activity, it's not a name for a physical object, like water), so there can be no physical test to disprove it and B: You have decided you don't need the other guys agreement on what it is. You could be telling me what sort of hats the invisible fairies wear - I really have no way of disproving which hat they wear (and indeed, whether they exist) and in doing so it's not asking for my agreement to what hat they wear, it's just telling me.

Or I'll pitch it the other way around - there are invisible fairies, that you can't see or feel. They are part of the process and they are why you are wrong. And they definately exist. I'm telling you, not asking.

In do unto others terms, not something you want argued to you, not something you want to argue onto others.


Title: Re: Looking at the idea called 'system' again
Post by: JoyWriter on November 18, 2009, 03:49:23 PM
Quote
Also it might be helpful to contrast all of these robberies and things with an actually healthy situation; have you referred to anything in this thread that you would consider right?
I think this would just change the topic. After all, that I think something is right, or that I even consider if something is right, is not, as far as I can tell, any reason for anyone else to. And if I talk about what I think is right, that'll get pointed out to me. Instead I'm just nakedly trying to prompt moral reflection (or find if it's there and I missed it) simply on the basis of do unto others and all that shit.

Rabbi Hillel said "That which you dislike, don't do to your fellow", Jesus said "Do to others as you would have them do to you". I take from that difference the idea that morality can be phrased in negative and positive senses, focusing on the harmonious ideal or on damage, and I prefer to focus on what I should be doing. There's some psychology that has been done that suggests people respond better to that, but there's probably advantages in both. So when I see people making moral judgements, setting up limits, I wonder if they have found a way through the maze themselves, if they have found the positive to complete the negative (similar to my previous comments about combining game rules with explanations of the designers core intent). That's what I was wondering about there.

I'm one of those crazy people who is actually happy when he meets someone who totally disagrees with him, because it means I may have an opportunity to see a new way of looking at the world. In my experience a clash of perspectives can go well or badly, depending on the behaviour of the participants.

Now something I'm not sure you caught in my last post, was the idea that rather than forcing you to change your mind, someone might ask you to entertain the concept that they are correct, as you have done at the start of this thread, but also ask the person who disagrees with them to go "if then, what...." and build off it. This kind of thing is sometimes called a domain of discourse, and I think in some ways it forms a good metaphor for SIS.

Quote
Perhaps we're all wrong, but if you provide an alternative view then people can decide to try yours out, hypothetically, and compare it to their own one. Your starting to do this, which is great, but it's still board games or card games, not your own explanation of actual rpg sessions.
Well, you seem to be insisting on absolute shared understanding, rather than shared understanding on following procedure and a possible absence of shared understanding in terms of fiction.

Bang, you just did it! That was exactly what I was referring to, jumping from "it reminds me of this" to "I think it's like this". It may seem a tiny distinction to you, but it can give other people (like me) a lot more to get hold of when talking to you. If this is an accurate description of how you play (agreement to procedure before everything else), and how you want to play wheras the former is not, then we can make a big distinction between why and how you play and why and how other people (like Vincent) play.

I'm guessing also that you might say that the most important "step on up" reward in these games is mastery of that procedure? At least for you?

Quote
What people maybe haven't seen though, is that you tolerated something you really didn't like. Why? You'd have to answer that. (if I'm right that I'm right that .....)
I don't actually have an issue with fractured fictions. Other peoples imaginations work in weird ways that mine doesn't.

Fair do's. What was the problem then? I thought based on this:

However, when it came to reloading, latter in the same game, no, you had to use an attack and do nothing for a turn. I tried to present this apparent conflict, but he literally said something like 'Aww, come on, you can't just reload and shoot all at once'...despite the fact that apparently people were carefully aiming for some time, yet shooting instantly and somehow that aiming time happened after the shot (was taken off the number of attacks).

That your problem actually was that his idea differed from yours, it differed from yours in that it was inconsistent, when interpreted as relating to the same fictional world. My guess is that you like to be on the same fictional page for predictive reasons; it allows you to plan ahead within the game without having all of the rules in front of you, it acts as a way of inferring other rules by analogy, but that's just a guess naturally! But I'd also guess that although that is mostly your reason for disliking those dissonances, you also have a little bit of that enjoyment of suspension of disbelief that makes these things wrong simply because they don't fit your expectation, they jar, rather than for any reason associated with competition or shifting goalposts.

Then presumably after that the other "delusion" problem manifested itself? Or is that where I misunderstood you? Were you referring to the original example game with your comment about delusion?

I probably misunderstood you, I certainly didn't mean to read lazily (incidentally that's one of the things that really does piss me off! It's somehow easier to be angry about little things...).

At this point I thought of the golden rule, how it'd eventually get invoked no doubt, and ceased bothering to discuss it and just went with it (and chalked up yet another dumb and uninteresting point against the golden rule).

This is what I think most people would be talking about when they talk about lumpley principle style agreement in a game, not that you overwrite your own personal view of the situation, that you fork it and work off the public build. Where I think you may have made a powerful insight is that people can follow the system and "agree" in that sense, despite having persistent misgivings that may not be dealt with. In other words "agreement" or "sufficient tolerance" can be reached that is sufficient for play to continue but not for actual satisfaction of the participants, and that something extra that you want from a game might be different from what other designers here want and insure they preserve.

I dunno, is everyone this way, needing absolute understanding on both rules AND fiction, at all times?

I think that need is probably the hunger of a connoisseur; technically your hungry for any old thing, but what you're really after is some lovely chinesy stir-fry! That focus is so much part of the core of why they play that going without it is a bit tasteless in comparison.


Title: Re: Looking at the idea called 'system' again
Post by: Callan S. on November 18, 2009, 06:46:17 PM
Quote
Bang, you just did it! That was exactly what I was referring to, jumping from "it reminds me of this" to "I think it's like this". It may seem a tiny distinction to you, but it can give other people (like me) a lot more to get hold of when talking to you. If this is an accurate description of how you play (agreement to procedure before everything else), and how you want to play wheras the former is not, then we can make a big distinction between why and how you play and why and how other people (like Vincent) play.

I assure you I've been making this distinction since the begining...not that it matters really, unless any further arguement is based on the idea I made the distinction only just now.

The things is, I keep making the distinction and then people seem to read me to mean absolute understanding ... even though I'm sure everyone has played dozens of board game sessions where they formed no fictional understanding with the other players and only had a procedural understanding, and yet nothing caught on fire and no blood was shed or any other terrible thing, I'm sure. But when it comes to a roleplay example, there almost seems to be a howl that I simply must have agreed with the fiction. As if it couldn't work the same as the board game sessions from their own personal history!?

I appreciate you saying "we can make a big distinction between why and how you play and why and how other people (like Vincent) play.", but given the common, absolute resistance to thinking of play defaulting, even for a brief time, to boardgame like play, I think the question is more like 'Why are people so damn dedicated to always having an intact fictional understanding?'. In terms of your last question, this focus seems almost bigger than GNS...or perhaps it's why S exists at all. I will say in terms of gamism, I play for esteem...keep in mind that if you play for esteem, esteem doesn't vanish if the fictional understanding falls apart. I think narrativism is similar - the fun thing about nar doesn't vanish if the fiction falls apart for a bit. It's only sim where it's absolutely fucking vital the fictional understanding continues on (which is probably why I'm not really attracted to sim).

Quote
That your problem actually was that his idea differed from yours, it differed from yours in that it was inconsistent, when interpreted as relating to the same fictional world.
I don't understand...why would I have a problem? We just work differently. It's like if he had black skin and I had white skin...we have different skin. I don't have to have a problem with the other guys skin to note there's a difference between our skins. And in terms of imagination, he imagines black (so to speak) and I imagine white. We don't agree/we don't match. It's that easy. I don't need to have a problem with it to accept we don't match/don't agree.

My example was to show we didn't agree. Just that - like I might point out our mutually non matching skin colours. It wasn't demonstrating any problem with it...I don't need everyone to imagine my way.

Years ago I had some posts here on pushing a vase off a balcony 'in game' and it falling several stories onto concrete. A large number of people had real issues, IIRC, with imagining it not breaking - they really needed everyone to imagine it breaking. They needed everyone to imagine it the same way they did.

Other than that, I don't know what else to add?

Quote
This is what I think most people would be talking about when they talk about lumpley principle style agreement in a game, not that you overwrite your own personal view of the situation, that you fork it and work off the public build. Where I think you may have made a powerful insight is that people can follow the system and "agree" in that sense, despite having persistent misgivings that may not be dealt with. In other words "agreement" or "sufficient tolerance" can be reached that is sufficient for play to continue but not for actual satisfaction of the participants, and that something extra that you want from a game might be different from what other designers here want and insure they preserve.
You might not agree, but I don't think your into esteem enough to see it as the reason for play. Okay, imagine this, there is free booze at gaming night (HAZAH!). You come for the free booze. Now at some point the fiction breaks down...but the free booze keeps on coming. So it's no biggie, your getting what you came for, so fuck who cares if the fiction broke down, pass me another coldie! That's how esteem works in gamism - you come for the esteem the same way. But when I talk about it here, everyone keeps assuming I'm there for the fiction first and foremost and the beers just something unimportant on the side.

When the booze keeps coming, it's not 'tolerance', even. It's actually just not giving a shit.

Now, what I'm thinking is, and Caldis makes me think this, is that people here might like to think that everyone at their gaming table is agreeing and enjoy that feeling. And to accept what I'm saying would mean to lessen their certainty everyone is agreeing at the table - which would spoil what they get at the gaming table. So basically people have understanding and yet spoilt gaming in one hand, and in the other hand ignoring what I say and continue with their fun.

Eh, that sounds awkward. What I'm trying to do is preserve your notions that if someone stays at the table they must have agreed, by saying if I know that's the case for a game I wouldn't turn up to that game. I don't want to spoil peoples notion that if people stay at the table everyones agreeing to some fabulously solid fiction. But lets say you could have a different game to that, where people know that staying at the table can just mean agreement with procedure and no fictional understanding. That's a different set up you can have. Would everyone accept that is possible, even if you'd do it only once hell had frozen over?

Is that diplomatic enough? I'm not Ron, I don't really do the 'ease in'.


Title: Re: Looking at the idea called 'system' again
Post by: Caldis on November 19, 2009, 10:11:56 AM

The problem with your multiple visions of the fiction approach is that it has the potential to ruin causality.  You need to be able to create a sequence of events in a game.   That's not always possible if different people are seeing things differently.  I accept that people have different views of the fiction and I dont believe it's possible to always be on the same page, nor does it matter in a lot of cases if they do differ,  but at a certain point you may have to resolve those differences and how you do that is part of system.

Take your example of the falling bottle.  In most situations it doesnt matter if the bottle breaks or not so it's fine if people have different views on whether it breaks or not.  Now what if we change the situation and there is a Genie trapped in the bottle who cant escape while the bottle is intact.  If in the game the bottle falls off the ledge we then all have to know what happens.  Half the group cant believe the bottle remains intact while the other member believe it broke.  If the Genie comes out once the bottle is broken then unless everyone agrees the bottle broke the game cant continue.  The question has to be resolved and it may involve going back to retcon the situation to resolve peoples differing views of the fiction.  Whether or not you allow going back to change the situation is also part of system.

Likewise in your example with the reloading rifle.  Your vision of the fiction may be that your character did fire his gun at the same time as the others who had aimed and that they just didnt allow you to roll the dice at this time.  If in the interim your character is shot and killed by an enemy he may have been able to shoot and kill had they allowed you to attack at the same time as the rest the fiction in your head is irrelevant, you cant claim that your character is not dead and use that as a justification.  The system has already determined that you didnt get to shoot.  Basic cause and effect brought about by system.



Title: Re: Looking at the idea called 'system' again
Post by: Callan S. on November 19, 2009, 11:24:56 AM
The problem with your multiple visions of the fiction approach is that it has the potential to ruin causality.  You need to be able to create a sequence of events in a game.
No you don't need it (Want? Probably. Need? No). You've got this idea you need to be able to create a sequence of fictional events and then all your other arguements flow on from this assumption that you really need to. And this assumption is not true.

I'm guessing that your assumption was fostered by traditional roleplay games, where there was basically no written procedure on what to do next, at the gaming table, at any given point. And your so used to using fiction as some sort of way of determining what to do next at the gaming table, you can't actually see any other way, anymore. Even though I'm sure you could go off and play a boardgame with it's fully written out procedure, just fine.

Let's say there was an RPG with just three actions - climbing, jumping and talking. This is how your thinking - you don't know which to roll next at the gaming table, if any at all, unless you have a chain of fictional causality to tell you which to roll for. Essentially in how your thinking, if the fictional causality isn't intact, you don't know what to roll and since you don't, play has literally ground to a halt, since in the way your thinking, you can't roll anything because you have no idea what to roll (until your fiction becomes intact again).

Now lets drop the emotionally charged acronym 'RPG' and say we have a procedure. It has three entries; climbing, jumping and talking. Which one you roll for is determined by rolling 1D3. The procedure after that? Roll 1D3. After that? 1D3. Continue until you get bored of it.

Can you continue play, boring as it might be, in the latter example without any fictional causality? I'm hoping we both say 'Absolutely'. If not, I'm absolutely flabbergasted, as it's as followable as chess (if not nearly as interesting).

Are we both saying 'Absolutely'?


Title: Re: Looking at the idea called 'system' again
Post by: Caldis on November 19, 2009, 02:03:01 PM

I'm sorry you've lost me in hypothetical nonsense again.

If you are trying to say it's possible to play purely proceedural with no reference to fiction please relate an actual play where this happened.  Or develop a game that does so, play it and come back with play examples.  I dont see how this relates to the topic though.  What you propose is a game where the rules match system it doesnt change how system works in all other games or the concept of system.  In the game you actually played system included the 'golden rule' as you put it, in that example the gm overuled your view of the fiction.   It really is that simple and I dont understand why you are trying to complicate it.


Title: Re: Looking at the idea called 'system' again
Post by: Callan S. on November 19, 2009, 08:06:34 PM
Do you have some physically measurable quality in mind that would prove it's the case, Caldis? If not, take it elsewhere and be productive in another thread - I've provided an example, your denying it not based on anything physically measurable, just your own willfull assertion. I had thought my own word for what I have agreed with would be enough. Apparently not. Okay, so describe a physically measurable quality that, if the activity measures up to it, proves play entered into procedure only. Or go away and be productive elsewhere. I might have seemed to be humouring willful assertions - I'll prove I'm not by asking here for a physically measurable test, or go and work on some other threads other than this one.


Title: Re: Looking at the idea called 'system' again
Post by: Caldis on November 20, 2009, 05:26:44 AM

The people were able to play and decide what happened that's the physically measurable quality.  System is a component of role playing it's how it was done.  For there to be no system requires no successful play.  Here's an example of play without system.

Kids playing cops and robbers.

"Bang I shot you, you're dead." 

"No you missed."

Arguement ensues, the game ends they all go home.

They couldnt agree on what was happening in the game.

This group did have system.

"Bang I shot you, you're dead."

"No you missed."

Negotiation ensues, result shot player falls down counts to ten and is back in the game.

They had system and it included negotiation.  They agreed to what happened.





Title: Re: Looking at the idea called 'system' again
Post by: Callan S. on November 20, 2009, 01:02:28 PM
Quote
The people were able to play and decide what happened that's the physically measurable quality.
How do you physically measure that? And I mean in a way anyone could physically measure, rather than it being that certain individuals are declared as the ones to say whether it's the case or not?

Quote
System is a component of role playing it's how it was done.  For there to be no system requires no successful play.
I'm looking at the defintion right now and it doesn't require 'system' to exist at all for play to be considered successful at any given moment. It doesn't say that has to be there or otherwise play is not successful.

Either A: It meant to convey what you say, but doesn't do so (well, I atleast think it doesn't convey it at all) or B: you've invented some quality that isn't part of the currently used defintion. Ie, your wrong on the matter.

I'm thinking B of course, but I will say that if you play simulationism, as I understand it, that does require system to be there or it's not successful play. And this hobbies has a history of simulationists conflating their agenda with how all roleplaying is done and what simply must be there for successful play to happen, all the way back to Gygax arguing with Dave Arneson.


Title: Re: Looking at the idea called 'system' again
Post by: Callan S. on November 20, 2009, 01:18:45 PM
Indeed, take your first cops and robbers example and say there was a rule "If two people can't agree on the fiction of who shot whom, flip a coin and whoever loses lies on the ground and counts to ten"

Let's say they play, argue, realise they can't agree, flip a coin and the one who loses the coin toss does lie on the ground and counts to ten. That's successful play.

"But they agreed on who was shot!"

No, read the rules - they agreed on who would lie down for a count of ten. That's all - if your pasting an imaginative level onto that, that's just you doing so, all by yourself. No one asked you to add an imaginative level to that nor is anyone agreeing with the imagination you weren't asked to add.

There's the rule, they can be physically observed as following it, that's successful play. Except for a simulationist bent on the continued integrity of the imaginative space.


Title: Re: Looking at the idea called 'system' again
Post by: Ron Edwards on December 15, 2009, 10:35:38 AM
Five pages is about as far as any Forge thread I've ever seen manages to get without looping back on itself or turning into repeated claims and counter-claims. This one has reached a point at which each addition becomes less constructive.

I'm going to call for daughter threads if anyone wants to continue the discussion. Each daughter thread, should there be any, must be founded on discussions of actual role-playing experiences.

This thread is now closed to further posting. No one's done anything terribly wrong in it, but its time has come. "To everything, turn, turn, turn, there is a season, turn, turn, turn," and all that.

Best, Ron