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Title: I learned about System from Munchkins
Post by: Daniel B on January 04, 2010, 12:43:04 AM
My System suddenly grew big. By "big", I do not refer to the number of rules. Instead, I refer to layers of the Big Model.

I'm writing this post to see if I'm correctly understanding the place of System within the Big Model for the first time. In fact, I'm not entirely convinced that the existing definition of System as written in the Provisional Glossary is sufficient, given this critical observation. (At least, in my opinion it's critical.)

For the longest time, I quite sincerely thought System would be best placed within the Techniques layer, where a given system is simply a collection of techniques but doesn't necessarily define all techniques used in real play. It seemed to me that events such as the application of House Rules or GM fiat is a technique which supplements or violates the System rules, leading directly to a different kind of Ephemera than the players would have gotten otherwise. However, I've changed my mind with some recent thinking, and if I'm correct, it would open up a great new avenue to think, converse, and debate along. (Maybe for other people as well as myself!)

I'm working on a game that I haven't had a chance to work for months due to real-life issues, but I've started again fresh with ideas that cropped up in the interim. I won't delve into the details of the project, but basically the players really have to help make it work or it'll veer wildly off-course and be a complete meltdown. (That said, as long as they cooperate, I'm hoping it will be a brilliant game.) Critical to having the players help the system is having the players work well with each other. To that end, I intend to build rules that relate to group-building, -management, and -cohesion. These rules would be similar to what you'd find in a business executive's book on how to organize and run a group project effectively.

Anyway, so over the holidays I also spent some time with friends and played a few quick but really wacky games, including Munchkins, that involve rules that step into real life. The rule that is really memorable changes depending on whether the player, not the character, is male or female. (Actually we played this other one too which was pretty funny .. "Zombie Fluxx" where by one rule you had to groan like a zombie when one came into play.) I had utterly ignored Munchkins and the like as inspiration for my own game because mine is more serious in tone, like an adventure flick. However, those rules that extend into real life made me think of my own decision to build pure player-social rules. It's funny, but those wacky rules make the border between the SIS and real life very fuzzy. There is a "sort of SIS" in Munchkins, but it's very .. see-through? It's effectively transparent, though you can suspend disbelief a tiny bit. "Haha! I stole your boots!" (Obviously, a real pair of boots did not change hands.. err .. feet.)

In considering this, it occurred to me that my own social-management rules are very definitely part of System, since they're written rules and are important to the success of the game and the consistency of the SIS, but they just as definitely have absolutely nothing to do with the SIS directly. Where the heck does this fit within the Big Model? This was the breakthrough that finally convinced me beyond doubt that System should indeed be at the Exploration layer, and not within the Techniques layer.

I'd love to hear anyone's opinion on this. (I realize I talked more about the "Actual Play" rather than relating the Actual Play session itself, but I quite frankly can't remember any specific game of Munchkins. There's too much variation.)


PS   I have since started to wonder if there are a lot of games with rules outside the SIS, which are "unMunchkinly" and which I'm not aware of due to limited experience. I'd love to peruse them. Any suggestions?


Title: Re: I learned about System from Munchkins
Post by: Jasper Flick on January 04, 2010, 03:37:49 AM
Could you clearly state what definition of "System" you base this on? I have the nagging feeling yours is quite different from mine. There's a big potential for miscommunication if we don't clear this up.

By the way, here's the glossary (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/_articles/glossary.html) if you're looking for it.

Quote
I have since started to wonder if there are a lot of games with rules outside the SIS, which are "unMunchkinly" and which I'm not aware of due to limited experience. I'd love to peruse them. Any suggestions?

Do you mean whether there are games with elements that do not directly represent anything fictional? Resources, rules, or procedures that aren't justified as simulating some part of the imagined reality? In that case, there are legion, and I don't know where to start.


Title: Re: I learned about System from Munchkins
Post by: Daniel B on January 05, 2010, 01:43:17 AM
By the way, here's the glossary (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/_articles/glossary.html) if you're looking for it.
Thanks X-)



Could you clearly state what definition of "System" you base this on? I have the nagging feeling yours is quite different from mine. There's a big potential for miscommunication if we don't clear this up.

I'm referring to the picture of the Big Model (http://indie-rpgs.com/_articles/bigmodelpic.pdf), actually, linked to from the Provisional Glossary. In this picture, System is up at the Exploration layer as part of the formula [Color * [System * [Situation = Character * Setting]]]     We may indeed be using different definitions of System, my definition having recently been significantly changed. I'll state my "own" definition near the end of the post.

Quote
I have since started to wonder if there are a lot of games with rules outside the SIS, which are "unMunchkinly" and which I'm not aware of due to limited experience. I'd love to peruse them. Any suggestions?


Do you mean whether there are games with elements that do not directly represent anything fictional? Resources, rules, or procedures that aren't justified as simulating some part of the imagined reality? In that case, there are legion, and I don't know where to start.

No .. I am aware that there are indeed plenty of games where some rules don't directly simulate a part of the imagined reality. Any game allowing the player to reroll a bad die-roll based on some resource available to that player, where said resource has nothing to do with the character or the SIS, is an example of this. However, although this rule doesn't simulate anything in the SIS, it still "touches" the fiction, so to speak. It changes the outcome within the SIS and affects it's future. What I'm referring to are rules in the system which do not touch the fiction at all, even remotely. I was never before consciously aware of the fact that not all rules of game need touch the fiction of the SIS, for an RPG, and it was in considering Munchkins that I finally became aware.

Take, for example, the player roles as discussed in the thread, "Roles & Stances" (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=767.0), begun by Laurel. (It's an archived thread.) In it, a few ideas are tossed around for defining player roles such as 'Host', 'Audience', 'GM', and even 'Music/Sound Director'. I'll add a few that aren't mentioned in the post, just to drive the point home. How about the roles of 'Transportation Planner' and 'Communication Coordinator'? In my own group, these roles are pretty much handled implicitly by our different players, as they are for a lot of groups I suspect. In other words, they make up a significant portion of the Social Contract and aren't dealt with explicitly in any of the gaming manuals we use.

Such roles aren't traditionally included as part of System, as it is defined in the Provisional Glossary (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/_articles/glossary.html), from what I understand. The relevant part of that definition is "System: The means by which imaginary events are established during play .." and as mentioned, these roles are more a part of the Social Contract than the System. However, for my own game, I want to define such roles (or at least some behavioural rules) in order to keep the game coherent. These rules will not touch the fiction at all, but will be integral to the success of the gaming experience, and therefore these rules may sneak into the existing definition of System rather discreetly.. or maybe not. In any case, by not touching the fiction, the rules of my System are outside the SIS and therefore cannot be contained within the Techniques layer of the Big Model.

Jasper, you'd asked me what my definition of System is, but I'd actually keep the meaning of the word as it is in the Provisional Glossary. I might, however, expand it as follows, so that it covers the above considerations. I'll try to stick to Ron's goal of minimizing circular references within the Glossary.

Quote
System: The means by which game play is performed, including but not limited to the establishment of imaginary events during play. Examples are the allotment of social roles among the players, character creation, resolution of imaginary events, reward procedures, and more. It may be considered to introduce fictional time into the Shared Imagined Space. See also the Lumpley Principle.

For further discussion, consider this to be my own understanding of System. This would need to include an "extended Lumpley Principle" along these lines as well.

Quote
Extended Lumpley Principle, the

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


Title: Re: I learned about System from Munchkins
Post by: Jasper Flick on January 05, 2010, 05:00:23 AM
It seems to me like you're trying to expand "System" to include the "Social Contract" (effectively, everything) as well. Why would you want to do that? It leaves a hole which the current definition of "System" perfectly fills.

Here's why I think you would want to do that:

What you might be implicitly assuming is that "System" must be written down. And, conversely, that anything written down must be part of "System". Neither is the case. Whether anything is written down, formalized, or ad-hoc is completely irrelevant to the model.

Having said that, do game texts talk about stuff that doesn't "touch the fiction" at all? Sure they do. You will find that quite a few game books devote words to the stuff at the top of the Social Contract. Could it be you missed it, because it is not written in a "thou shalt" form, but in the form of general advise?

Quote from: D&D 4e DMG, page 14
Food: Come to a consensus about food for your session. Should players eat before arriving, or do you eat together? Does one player want to play host? Do you all chip in for pizza or take-out? Who brings snacks and drinks?


Title: Re: I learned about System from Munchkins
Post by: lumpley on January 05, 2010, 05:57:07 AM
Daniel, right on.

The candle ritual in Polaris is another example.

-Vincent


Title: Re: I learned about System from Munchkins
Post by: Jasper Flick on January 05, 2010, 07:01:06 AM
Is my understanding correct, that lighting the candle is part of system, but deciding at whose house to play is not? I simply lump the candle ritual with rolling dice, filling in the relationship diagram, taking turns in order, and so on. But I leave the social level stuff like planning the meeting, buying snacks and generally behaving socially functional out of its scope.


Title: Re: I learned about System from Munchkins
Post by: lumpley on January 05, 2010, 07:52:38 AM
Jasper: In Polaris you're right, but that's just Polaris, not any theoretical bounds. There's no reason why whose house you play at, or who buys the snacks, or how people behave, couldn't be specified by a game's rules.

My game In a Wicked Age specifies that you should play it with some of your bravest, most creative, and hottest friends, and that you play it for multiple sessions on a regular schedule. If you play it with your dullest friends instead, or without having committed to an ongoing game, you're playing by a different system than I designed.

-Vincent


Title: Re: I learned about System from Munchkins
Post by: lumpley on January 05, 2010, 08:52:04 AM
I'll say a bit more. When you design a game, you design it for a certain particular social context (Ben Lehman's term), inevitably. You have a choice:

1. Leave your intended social context implicit, and hope or expect that the people who pick your game up will already have the social context you've designed for. "Hope and expect" means marketing, or luck, or fat chance, depending on how savvy you are and how common your intended social context is in the wild.

Funny story! Someone once wondered whether I'd ever played my game Poison'd with women in the group (because of shocking subject matter delicate sensibilities something something, I guess). I was quite taken aback - it plain hadn't occurred to me that anyone might play the game in a men-only group. I mean, bleh, what would be the point of that?

2. State your intended social context upfront and leave it up to the eventual players to create that social context for themselves. For instance, In a Wicked Age tells you to have hot friends who can and will commit, sight unseen, to an ongoing game, but it doesn't tell you how to make such friends.

3. Include rules in your game that create the social context you've designed for. This can include rules that reach right straight into the eventual players' purely social interactions, like Polaris' candle ritual.

Now, so: system is what actually happens in play. It's within social contract, a subset of social contract: everything in a game-in-action's system is part of the group's social contract, but the group's social contract includes much that isn't system. That's plain Big Model. This idea of social context, though, means that any particular element of social contract - whose house you play at, who's hot for whom, how you schedule your game - is available to system. It might be part of system, or might not, depending upon the particular needs of the particular game.

Which is precisely Daniel's insight. So right on, Daniel.

-Vincent


Title: Re: I learned about System from Munchkins
Post by: Jasper Flick on January 05, 2010, 10:42:15 AM
I never considered the requirement that you should play with some of your bravest, most creative, and hottest friends to be part of System. I considered it part of the Social Contract, in this case codified in the game's design, and System manifests from that. Mulling it over a bit, I believe it's a chicken-egg thing, so saying it's part of System to begin with works too. So I can just flip my mind, and...

Right on, Daniel!

Thanks, Vincent (that's your second thanks for 2010). I really begs the questions whether the Glossary should be updated to more "modern" terminology.


Title: Re: I learned about System from Munchkins
Post by: lumpley on January 05, 2010, 11:05:46 AM
Should schmould! The function of the glossary is to get people prepped to participate in the conversation, not to keep track of every most current development or opinion.

This is a live topic in the ongoing conversation, right here.

-Vincent


Title: Re: I learned about System from Munchkins
Post by: Daniel B on January 05, 2010, 05:07:16 PM
Just skimmed the 'Ritual and Gaming/Game Design' (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=16661.0) topic .. mind = blown!!
Whole new avenues in my mind, for the creative process of this game..


Thanks gents, especially for the example Vincent


Title: Re: I learned about System from Munchkins
Post by: Joel P. Shempert on January 06, 2010, 12:11:16 AM
As I read the opening topic, I too was thinking of Polaris...it's not just the candle, it's also the "take breaks between scenes and discuss how you're feeling" bit that reaches right down from Social Contract and plunks a shiny gem into System. It's not "deciding whose house to play at" but it's close!

Magical Land of Yeld includes the assignment of duties--mapmaking, calendar tracking, sidequest records, etc. to different players. Yes, that reaches into the SIS, sort of, but it's really more about who does the bookkeeping rather than what happens fictionally. And hey, old-skool D&D does it too!

These (and yes, the wine-and-sexy-friends clause) are great baby steps in this direction, but I'd love to see things get even more crazy-wild in terms of arranging Social Context explicitly. Ron talked about setting up group buy-in for a game on the basis of Color and Reward in this thread (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/forum/index.php?topic=27126.msg257668#msg257668) about my failed Sorcerer game. That's a HUGE Social Context thing (plugging right in to System and the SIS, natch) that it'd be great to see game texts tackle head-on. My friend Julian's storyjamming method (http://opencirclestory.blogspot.com/) utilizes short autobiographical monologues generated through a creative prompt, to bring out to make a space where the players are emotionally invested, or to rekindle investment mid-story. Similarly, for the game I'm tinkering with for Fairy Tales about adolescent trauma, I want to lead off with players' personal stories about teenage awkwardness. How to best facilitate that is a big question!

Peace,
-Joel


Title: Re: I learned about System from Munchkins
Post by: contracycle on January 06, 2010, 05:39:31 AM
Can there be rules that govern behaviour?  Sure.  Can such rules then be organised into as system which informs the IS?  Sure.  Does this mean anything of much significance?  No IMO.

Here is a common, although AFAIK never-discussed-in-any-text behavioral rule: you agree to be bound by the outcomes of die rolls.  It's a behavioural rule, and one that extends far beyond RPG's, mainly in gambling.  We learn this behavioural rule very early and I've never seen a game text discuss the matter.  So far so normal.


Title: Re: I learned about System from Munchkins
Post by: Caldis on January 06, 2010, 01:40:13 PM

I think it does have quite a bit of significance and there are games that do talk about dice rolling.  Lots of games specifically mention the GM ignoring dice rolls if it doesnt suit what he wanted out of the game (there was lots of talk about the new Dragon Age game recently).  I think it's pretty significant if players are playing a game and expecting their characters fate to be governed by the dice but in reality it all comes down to the GM's decision.  This is a huge change in system.


Title: Re: I learned about System from Munchkins
Post by: contracycle on January 08, 2010, 10:28:51 AM
Sure.  And people have been known to refuse to accept the outcomes of gambling games too, with far more serious consequences.  The point about gaming textx explaining why it's ok to reject a die roll only confirms that its a thing we learn long before we start RPG as a rule.

My point though is that I don't think this changes anything.  System has always reached into the "behavioural" realm, but that doesn't turn any and every behaviour into system.  I don't see anything novel here.  Nor am I convinced that any behaviour specified in a game text can really be regarded as a component of system.  Attributing more and more stuff to system makes it less and less useful as a term or tool.


Title: Re: I learned about System from Munchkins
Post by: Callan S. on January 08, 2010, 12:10:32 PM
Here is a common, although AFAIK never-discussed-in-any-text behavioral rule: you agree to be bound by the outcomes of die rolls.  It's a behavioural rule, and one that extends far beyond RPG's, mainly in gambling.  We learn this behavioural rule very early and I've never seen a game text discuss the matter.  So far so normal.
I think they're describing something else. Note the repeated references to stuff determining either how you imagine or above, even how you play, that does not have to be in rules. The forge glossary reference for system includes this.

The thing about rules is that you are concious of them - you can see the rules/be concious of them and you can consent/commit to them. Yet they keep refering to things you are not concious of, but apparently affect the fiction made or even how play is done. Presumably that involves consenting to that. So that's consenting to something they have no idea about what they are consenting to. Unknown permissions. It's like writing out a blank cheque.

Your talking about something you can conciously consent/not consent to, rather than...I don't know how to describe it? Write something a blank cheque (perhaps it's called 'the fiction') on how you behave and act as 'the fiction' dictates in the moment to moment, since you agreed to it even though you don't know what your agreeing to. Presumably out of faith it'll turn out all right/good. A religion analog, AFAICT. (indeed these days I wonder if fundie christians were against D&D not because of it's content, but because they/their mem could sense it encroaching on their/it's turf)

So I think they are talking about something else entirely.

Side note: I'm pretty sure the lumpley principle, when first presented, was in the concious consent model (with it's direct references to real life negotiation between participants), but over time it's articulation has sunk into the unconcious as it includes consenting to things that aren't rules/aren't known.


Title: Re: I learned about System from Munchkins
Post by: contracycle on January 09, 2010, 12:36:33 PM
That distinction doesn't particularly concern me at this point.  Not all rules in other areas are either conscious or consented to, consider "money", for example.  That is a slightly different issue.

What seems to have become lost in the "new" view of system is that it used to be fully termed a resolution system.  Extending it to anything and everything that happens in a game eliminates the resolution element and reduces it to just "stuff that happens".  Sure you can have rules that are behavioral, and you can have rules that establish a mood or context for play.  But unless they resolve something in the game itself, I don't think it's meaningful to refer to them as system.


Title: Re: I learned about System from Munchkins
Post by: Daniel B on January 09, 2010, 01:36:20 PM
That distinction doesn't particularly concern me at this point.  Not all rules in other areas are either conscious or consented to, consider "money", for example.  That is a slightly different issue.

What seems to have become lost in the "new" view of system is that it used to be fully termed a resolution system.  Extending it to anything and everything that happens in a game eliminates the resolution element and reduces it to just "stuff that happens".  Sure you can have rules that are behavioral, and you can have rules that establish a mood or context for play.  But unless they resolve something in the game itself, I don't think it's meaningful to refer to them as system.

Yes, but now the question become "to what do you refer by 'game itself' ". The paradigm shift for me was in recognizing the fact that 'game itself' need not be restricted to the SIS. The Polaris candle is a great example. By lighting and extinguishing the candle, you are in fact playing the game.

I can respect your opinion that unless it affects resolution of a conflict within the SIS, it's not part of the game, but think of it this way. What rules are or are not part of the game of basketball, which has no SIS at all. It is just simply a set of rules people agree to bound their behaviours to, in order to get out some entertainment. Why is an RPG any different? It just so happens that by following the rules of an RPG, you generate an SIS, but some rules may exist there simply to help enhance the experience.


Title: Re: I learned about System from Munchkins
Post by: Callan S. on January 09, 2010, 02:28:22 PM
But Gareth, the candles do affect resolution - your just not concious of how! You need to have faith that it does! If your asking for evidence here that this candle thing is relevant to resolution, that means you want to be concious of how it works and as you said, not everythings about being concious of what your doing, man! Everything matters, man, and that's why it's all system! And no one has to explain how that is so because it doesn't have to be concious!

I'm being satirical in saying that, of course. I think the lack of conciousness issue is dead on target.


Daniel, I think the entertainment of basketball stems, at it's core, from resolving a real life event. Adding on rules about lighting candles or such wouldn't add to that entertainment, since it resolves no real life event. You don't follow the rules of basketball because they are entertaining in themselves. You follow them because they resolve a RL event and that is the core of the entertainment.

If your lighting candles and finding it entertaining, you've moved away from the rules model basketball is using. Indeed I'd just call it ritual.


Title: Re: I learned about System from Munchkins
Post by: contracycle on January 09, 2010, 05:26:56 PM
I can respect your opinion that unless it affects resolution of a conflict within the SIS, it's not part of the game, but think of it this way. What rules are or are not part of the game of basketball, which has no SIS at all. It is just simply a set of rules people agree to bound their behaviours to, in order to get out some entertainment. Why is an RPG any different? It just so happens that by following the rules of an RPG, you generate an SIS, but some rules may exist there simply to help enhance the experience.

Well, imagine a situation in which two teams had different pre-game rituals akin to the candle concept.  One, I dunno, does yoga, the other has a grapefruit breakfast or something.  Can they really be said to be playing the game of basketball according to different rules?


Title: Re: I learned about System from Munchkins
Post by: contracycle on January 09, 2010, 10:01:59 PM
Callan, I understand the point you're making but lets leave that alone for now.  It's not that I disagree about the impications you identify, but that it's difficult to conduct any conversation on the basis of what the other party is assumed to say rather than what they actually say.  If that line of argument is advanced it can be confronted directly, and if not then this question can be discussed on its own grounds.


Title: Re: I learned about System from Munchkins
Post by: Daniel B on January 10, 2010, 04:04:41 PM
I can respect your opinion that unless it affects resolution of a conflict within the SIS, it's not part of the game, but think of it this way. What rules are or are not part of the game of basketball, which has no SIS at all. It is just simply a set of rules people agree to bound their behaviours to, in order to get out some entertainment. Why is an RPG any different? It just so happens that by following the rules of an RPG, you generate an SIS, but some rules may exist there simply to help enhance the experience.

Well, imagine a situation in which two teams had different pre-game rituals akin to the candle concept.  One, I dunno, does yoga, the other has a grapefruit breakfast or something.  Can they really be said to be playing the game of basketball according to different rules?

CC, you're debating that if we open the door to non-resolution elements, the border between System and Non-System becomes so fuzzy that it ceases to exist. You're right to a degree; if we indiscriminately include non-Technique elements, it becomes a big mess. However, this is why there is a separation between the rules and the System. The game starts out with the rules and only then grows to include other elements in System as the players jointly agree to it. To see this, try flipping your example around and see what we get.

Let's say you have one pair of basketball teams in the NBA following the "Rules of Basketball" to the letter, such that the smallest infraction is caught and called by a referee, while another pair of teams (kids in someone's backyard) follows the rules so loosely that they're violating the written rules left and right, and even rewriting the rules to adapt to their environment and the lack of referees. The Systems are quite a bit different, but can they really be said to be playing different games? Also, in either case, if one player does yoga and another eats a grapefruit breakfast, neither of these can really be considered parts of the System, because they don't qualify as jointly agreed-upon techniques.

Furthermore .. what's all this "it-must-perform-resolution" business? Just because it resolves nothing in the SIS doesn't mean it's not a Technique. It's a game, and rules in games have never needed to meet the bar of being "useful". This is where my insight from those Munchkin-type games comes in. That Zombie-Fluxx game required that I groan like a zombie whenever I put one into play. What does groaning like a zombie resolve?!?! Similarly, the Polaris Candle Ritual doesn't resolve anything in the SIS, and it doesn't have to. Although I've never played it myself, I can see how that ritual would be a lot of fun.

Abkajud's recent thread in Actual Play, "[Polaris] a therapist tries Story Now", outright gave me chills when I read it. The most powerful elements of the game were the rituals. If you excised the rituals and made it a plain D&D game .. YAWN!


Title: Re: I learned about System from Munchkins
Post by: Callan S. on January 10, 2010, 04:38:26 PM
Well, there's some consensus here on talking about ritual as opposed to resolving a real life event (and the fun stems from that RL resolution).

The question it raises to my mind is whether the forge term 'system' was defined as the former or latter, or some higgledpiggledy in between that can only be clarified as either if your drinking beers with the clarifier (ie, not a useful term to people who aren't able to share a beer on this).


Title: Re: I learned about System from Munchkins
Post by: contracycle on January 11, 2010, 12:05:32 AM
Let's say you have one pair of basketball teams in the NBA following the "Rules of Basketball" to the letter, such that the smallest infraction is caught and called by a referee, while another pair of teams (kids in someone's backyard) follows the rules so loosely that they're violating the written rules left and right, and even rewriting the rules to adapt to their environment and the lack of referees. The Systems are quite a bit different, but can they really be said to be playing different games? Also, in either case, if one player does yoga and another eats a grapefruit breakfast, neither of these can really be considered parts of the System, because they don't qualify as jointly agreed-upon techniques.

Well, I suggest that if you went to these kids and asked them, they might very well say they were playing something like "street basketball".  If you pushed them, I am quite confident they would admit that they were not in fact playing according to the full rules of basketball.  And that is all fine.  They can, for example, be playing with what amounts to a subset of the rules because what they really want is to practice shooting hoops, not to Really Play Basketball.  Are they then really "playing basketball"?  Only in the most dubiously representative sense.  You can say it and I know what you mean for the most part, but it's only approximately true.  If I walked onto their court and asked to join their game, I'd probably have to have a conversation with them about precisely which rules they considered to be active.  If you had told me they were "playing basketball", that statement would have failed to communicate to me which rules were actually in use.

Quote
Furthermore .. what's all this "it-must-perform-resolution" business? Just because it resolves nothing in the SIS doesn't mean it's not a Technique. It's a game, and rules in games have never needed to meet the bar of being "useful". This is where my insight from those Munchkin-type games comes in. That Zombie-Fluxx game required that I groan like a zombie whenever I put one into play. What does groaning like a zombie resolve?!?! Similarly, the Polaris Candle Ritual doesn't resolve anything in the SIS, and it doesn't have to. Although I've never played it myself, I can see how that ritual would be a lot of fun.

Well my point is, that's the big and radical change being proposed.  Furthermore, that precisely DOES mean those things are not Techniques; from the Glossary: "Specific procedures of play which, when employed together, are sufficient to introduce fictional characters, places, or events into the Shared Imagined Space."  So fine, I don't like making arguments to definitions, and the definitions are only there for mutual understanding rather than to be statements of perfect truth.  But as the term is used at present, groaning like a zombie is not a Technique in any relevant sense because it has no impact on the SIS.

Now as I have already agreed, sure these things can be significant to the mood and atmosphere, the ritualisation of the experience, to the overall quality of play.  It is fair and legitimate to include them in a rules text, and to be expect them to be mandatory.  But I see no point in conflating them with IS-affecting system or techniques, mainly because I see no problem with writing or reading rules that speak directly to the Social Contract.  It seems perfectly feasible to me to say that groaning like a zombie or lighting candles and whatnot are SC rules rather than system rules per se. 


Title: Re: I learned about System from Munchkins
Post by: Jasper Flick on January 11, 2010, 03:47:45 AM
We play Zombie-Fluxx.

I say: "I put a Zombie in play". (I put a Zombie in play.)

What just happenen to the SIS? What technique was used? Did I abide by the rules of Zombie-Fluxx?

I say: "Uhhhng... brains!". (I put a Zombie in play.)

What just happenen to the SIS? What technique was used? Did I abide by the rules of Zombie-Fluxx?


Title: Re: I learned about System from Munchkins
Post by: Daniel B on January 11, 2010, 11:10:57 AM
Hmm ..

Good points


Title: Re: I learned about System from Munchkins
Post by: contracycle on January 11, 2010, 12:29:21 PM
We play Zombie-Fluxx.

Well given that I know nothing about ZF this is of course speculation, but I'm willing to bet that the ability to introduce a zombie is actually governed by something other than groaning.  There will be some sort of currency or shift of authorial control that really grants this facility.  I doubt that groaning, in an of itself, automatically introduces a zombie in its own right; for example, if this is a game with turn structure, if I groaned during someone elses turn, I bet it would have no effect on the IS.

As such, groaning is an adjunct to the really effective systematic technique that introduces zombies.  It may be valuable in a anumber of sense, but I'd expect you actually could play the game without groaning and this would not impede the operation of those relevant techniques.


Title: Re: I learned about System from Munchkins
Post by: Jasper Flick on January 11, 2010, 01:04:58 PM
Well, the point is probably moot, because Zombie-Fluxx is a variant of Fluxx, which isn't an RPG but a cascual card game. Requiring something akin to Actor Stance while playing a Zombie card could be dismissed as nothing more than a goofball rule, and mechanically it'd work just fine. You'd probably get less giggles though. All right, that was the set-up. Now:

We play Polaris.

Situation 1: I gather everyone around in a circle, and start the game by saying "All right, let's get started!"

What just happenen to the SIS? What just happened in your mind?

Situation 2: I gather everyone around in a circle, and start the game by saying "Long ago, The people Were dying at The end of The World."

What just happenen to the SIS? What just happened in your mind?


Title: Re: I learned about System from Munchkins
Post by: contracycle on January 11, 2010, 02:49:32 PM
Well those seem rather different in that one does make claims about the IS and one does not.  Assuming you have the current credibility to assert that claim, sure the IS changes in the latter case.  But, this is not operationg purely at the SC level, it's a standard technique imposing shape on the IS.

(although, as it happens, not for me, because I habitually ignore that sort of enigmatic reference)


Title: Re: I learned about System from Munchkins
Post by: Jasper Flick on February 21, 2010, 07:40:06 AM
Situation 1: We're sitting in a room, going to play a silly game, still stuck in real life. We'll have to struggle to boot up the SIS.

Situation 2: The SIS got primed!

Obviously, this depends a lot on childhood experience, culture, and lots of other stuff. Here's what happens to me.

"Long ago" is the beginning of a magic phrase that signals we're about to enter a fairy tale world. Suspend your common sense, because from now on, anything can be possible. Forget about what's happening in real life and regress to a childlike state of wonder, excitement, and anticipation.

The default fairy tale, with its default expectations, would be announced with something like "Long ago, in a kingdom far away." There will likely be young royalty, witches, and talking animals.

"Long ago, the people were dying at the end of the world" signals we're not entering a default fairy tale. This is a tragic tale, and it takes place in a special location. What are the people suffering from? What is the end of the world? You're about to find out.

Here's another one: "Long ago, in a galaxy far away." Once again a fairy tale, but this time of galactic scope, with spacecrafts, energy weapons, and other science-fantasy stuff. In short, Star Wars.

The phrase doesn't change the SIS with cold hard facts. It lays the foundation for a specific kind of SIS, while leaving the possibilities wide open.

That's how it works for me.