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46709 Posts in 5588 Topics by 13297 Members Latest Member: - Shane786 Most online today: 32 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: [IaWA] Why narration matters  (Read 1283 times)
Alan
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« on: March 03, 2008, 08:28:58 AM »

The importance of narration in IaWA has been mentioned in a couple discussions, but I didn't start to understand until I finally understood the narration rules for dicing things out. After playing IaWA a couple times, reading the rules and Vincent's answers to questions, I'm convinced that some key narration rules are in the text, but easy to overlook. I believe these are:

Narration Rules
- always roll then narrate.
- always describe within the forms you're rolling.
- win an answer -- describe how you gain advantage.
- lose an answer -- describe how you prevent the action but end up at a disadvantage.
- lose completely -- admit the Challenger's last statement.
- win completely as an answer -- describe complete turnabout and your finishing action.

Except for the free narration that triggers the start of dice rolling, every mention of player description in the dicing rules comes after the player rolls! This is different from most games I know, where one describes action, then backs it up with a roll. In IaWA, you roll dice, then back it up with description!

The narrations are chained together by the context and logic of described events. The last surviving description sets up the action that must be addressed by negotiation when proposing consequences. The severity of that final action demands to be addressed, so the nastier it is, the more pressure on the loser to give more.

At the same time, the option of taking Exhaustion or Injury puts a cap on the amount of mechanical harm that a player may choose instead of a consequence -- until they've suffered an injury or two and have a dice at zero!

But in the end, whether we negotiate to a story consequence or just go to Injury or Exhaustion, the action description still demands an explanation of how we go from what was declared to the result we negotiated! There may be some retcon and different groups may have different standards of how much retcon is acceptable.

Eg If my winning declaration is "I hack off your head!" but our result is you lose two die sizes and are still in the game, then we have to reconcile these. If we demand high fidelity to our winning statement, then we have to come up with some way the character can lose their head and still be in play -- ghosts or animate headless body or eldritch resurrection maybe (and this brings up questions of how much magic we want in the story.) Alternately, we may accept some retcon -- "the sword slashes across his throat, blood flies as he falls into the chasm. .... Later, we see him on a ledge, his throat not lethally cut but bloody...." (this is more in line with pulp and Robert Howard's writing.)

As i see it, this is how narration matters in IaWA dice contests.
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- Alan

A Writer's Blog: http://www.alanbarclay.com
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