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Author Topic: [L5R, The Pool, and others] A new look at Drift  (Read 15044 times)
Callan S.
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« Reply #15 on: December 14, 2008, 07:34:08 PM »

Quote
Yeah, that concept is about the same as Incoherence, in reference both to the text and to subsequent play, rather than Drift. Drift might be a response to that situation, though.
Just noting this - I'm not sure it matters: When I responded I'd been thinking of how other groups could play in very different ways than my own reasons, with the very same text. I hadn't been thinking of incompatible combinations of Creative Agendas among participants in my own group. Although thinking about it, I'm not sure my distinction matters - the can be an incoherance amongst all users of the text, though some individual groups may form a coherant agenda in terms of just their own group. Again, this may not matter.

BUT on incoherance: But how did they get to that 'incoherant' state to begin with? Rather than a responce to that situation, how I took it is that drift is the method by which they arrived at the state of incoherance. I was thinking a text without strong facilitation for an agenda tends to set a group adrift and people sort of gravitate to what they think they heard in the game/what they like. For example, I'm thinking if you run a game of TROS with a test group with the spiritual attributes cut out, they would be more likely to come adrift compared to a second test group who play TROS with spiritual attributes intact. That'd be an interesting experiment to run a couple of dozen times, anyway.

Does the term drift apply to how a group arrives at incompatible combinations of creative agendas among participants?

Looking at the glossary, no, as that defintion involves starting from and leaving another creative agenda. But looking at your description in the original post "Arriving at a preferred Creative Agenda through altering the System, to the extent of ignoring or changing the written rules into new rules" this doesn't include a starting condition. Can drift arrive at incoherance as much as it can arrive at a shared CA?

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Not much to say here. I asked Dan and Chris what they wanted, and they told me. Granted, I articulated the Narrativist option clearly rather than decreeing "This be Gamist, yarrr, let's go!" The reason I did that at all is because I know that the pure color and cultural mind-share of D&D often spark interest in Narrativist play, and I suspected that might be the case for these two.
This isn't a reason - it's just describing situation: On contact with color and cultural mind share, they may have been inclined toward nar play.

Situation isn't a reason. What was your reason?

Obviously I'm not demanding an answer here, I just think it's a hard but good question to mull over should you want it.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #16 on: December 15, 2008, 02:55:30 AM »

Hi Callan,

I've thought about that and related questions quite a bit.  I have speculated about given individuals, but over time, I've decided to let each person's history and reasoning be his or her own business. "Individual people display aesthetic preferences due to hundreds if not thousands of long-term and short-term circumstances" - not exactly a scintillating answer, but I think it's better to leave it to personal reflection and Actual Play posting.

It might be that your question is more general: why humans are consistently committed to, for instance, social competition, imaginative modeling, and communication through fiction. If so, then we're moving into an area of discussion that is out of the Forge's scope. I think it's a great and fascinating topic, but due to my deep distrust of the internet's effect on discourse, I'll discuss such things in person only.

"Drift to Incoherence" is a very powerful topic. The most definite example would be the common issue of Zilchplay - basically a group which sticks together and plays in a desultory if consistent fashion, "having fun" as long as "fun" means continuing to get together periodically, and getting a little bit of time in for one's character (and one's original if dwindling play-goals) once in a while. I'm also interested in whether and how Zilchplay is involved in the cross-group or no-group phenomenon, basically people who self-identify as gamers, participate in no consistent group, and who play briefly and occasionally in public meet-ups and as a guest presence in other groups.

Do people (groups/individuals) gravitate toward playing Zilch? The answer is empirically yes. What is that process? Does it have analogies in other small-a artistic social groupings? Do we even call it Drift?

And all of that should be distinguished from the other (original in discussion terms) meaning of Incoherence: clash of Agendas or desired Agendas. If Zilchplay is the outcome of, among other things, reduction of Agenda-desires to the individual level (such that getting a whiff every year or so is supposed to be enough), then Incoherence as originally described, which perhaps needs a name of its own, is the ongoing struggle to establish a given Agenda in the presence of conflicting desires. I'm not sure that a person or group arrives at this, because it's not so much a form of play as a condition in which play may, or unfortunately may not, occur. But who knows? Even a dynamic clash might become a "way" if it persists or occurs in a consistent enough fashion.

Let's call that kind of Incoherence "the storm" for fun, because that's what it looks like, complete with warning signs and unpredictable flare-ups. Do people (groups/individuals) gravitate toward the storm, or is it like a ditch on the side of the road that they can fall into? Do we even call that Drift? My original thinking is not, but like I say, all my thinking on this topic is getting aired out from the beginning now.

For clarity's sake: this thread is stuffed full of questions, and that's how it should be. However, I hope that it will serve as a basis for people to examine instances of play in new threads, toward the end of clarifying and maybe answering a given question.

Best, Ron
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jag
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« Reply #17 on: December 15, 2008, 04:00:17 PM »

I'm also interested in whether and how Zilchplay is involved in the cross-group or no-group phenomenon, basically people who self-identify as gamers, participate in no consistent group, and who play briefly and occasionally in public meet-ups and as a guest presence in other groups.

I'd say that's an extremely accurate description of me as a gamer.  I'd be happy to be a lab rat and discuss my experiences in the no-group world, although that's likely a whole new thread.

James
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Callan S.
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« Reply #18 on: December 15, 2008, 09:38:05 PM »

Hi Ron,

That's still just a description of situation. I probably didn't describe my question well. Basically there were atleast two options, if not considerably more. One was to describe nar and gamism to them, etc as you did. The other was to simply start playing as as you said, it'll become fun when they step on up (and if they don't have any inclination there, you'd play something else or watch a movie). What was your reason for taking the first option instead of the second option of just playing it?
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #19 on: December 16, 2008, 06:31:15 AM »

Hi Callan,

Your second option is repugnant to me and has failed to deliver a fun times more often in my own role-playing history and in the histories of others than I can count. I can't think of it working for any social, leisure activity. Most such activities have their "CA" (i.e. the point of doing this) already pretty well established, culturally, and if they don't, people know the signals to figure it out quickly. Role-playing doesn't. Without specifying why we're doing this, we may well be in the situation of one person bringing their gussied-up show pig, one person bringing their pig for slaughter and barbecue, and one person bringing their sex-partner pig complete with lubricant ... and each one expecting everyone to contribute to and participate in the expected activity.

The whole point of my System Does Matter essay and subsequent work here is founded on the idea that simply "arriving" at CA from unconstructed play itself is a very low-success enterprise.

All of which is a fancy way of saying "Because doing that sucks."

Bring this line of questioning back to the topic of Drift, please. I am confident that it is linked somehow to your point of Drifting from or to incoherent play and would like to have that connection made clear.

Best, Ron
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Christoph Boeckle
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« Reply #20 on: December 17, 2008, 03:39:12 PM »

Hi

Ron asked me to post about my group's use of the Pool rules here, after some discussion about markusian traits (sorry, couldn't resist! doesn't sound too bad though), especially the questions of "before" and "after" (working terms).

I have no idea how this can relate to Drift, but I understand Ron has something to say about it.

My understanding of the Pool rules used to be very different to Ron's. I'm going to wax technical, but there are two old AP that represent that period: PoolScape and Call of Poolhu (yeah, puns... sue me).

Basically, our Monologues of Victory granted Narrational and Content Authority (perhaps even Situation, I can't recall clearly enough to tell), whereas Ron leaves Content Authority in the GM's hands at all times (see Silent Railroading and the Intersection of Scenario Prep & Player Authorship) and as far as I can recall, we used to put resolution just after Intention (see Vincent Baker's explanation of Intent, Initiation, Execution, Effect). I'm not quite sure where Ron puts it.

This allows for some wacky goals: "looking for a deeply burrowed megalithical construction" in a situation where no megalithical constructions had been mentioned, just a forest with plain old trees in it. Since we rolled just after that, not actually describing how the character went about to do that before the mechanical outcome is decided, the narrator had a lot of leeway in deciding how the character looked in the fiction. In that case, I got the MoV and decided that after brushing away some plants from a stone, my character realizes that it's part of some Stonehenge-like construction from ages immemorial. Had I missed my roll, the GM could just as well have said "the thought [the goal] is quickly forgotten as your investigator's eye catches on a peculiar detail" and gone a completely different route.
With Execution before the roll (for example), my character would have been groping around in the mud for nothing.
To be honest, we most probably mangled the IIEE sequence quite regularly, retconning when necessary. But for simplicity's sake, let's consider it this way (and that's okay I think, since being able to backtrack to before Initiation if necessary catches up any "spills" into Execution).

Ok, so that's one point I wanted to raise: is Content Authority "safer" depending on when in the IIEE process resolution is invoked?

Now, that Pool period is still considered today as one of our high points in absurd comedy. To the point where we've kind of had enough of it (we might very well play like that again, but only if we really want that kind of play.)


The second point I want to make is about how Traits are handled. I suspect that it depends (among other things) on where in the IIEE process we stuff the dice roll.
Consider my example in the thread from which I've been sent:
Quote
Player: "I want to pass this guard." (Player's intention, probably the character's as well, we usually hardly describe anything before rolling.)
GM: "Okay, roll for it, what Trait?"
Player: "Killer instinct"
Roll proceeds, narrator includes "Killer instinct" in IEE, after the mechanical resolution. (...), "Killer Instinct" could be seen as not yet expressed but obvious once mentioned: the history and definition of my character makes it obvious that he's going to kill yet again (at least try, as my choice for the Trait implies). If the GM ends up as the narrator, he could decide, since we don't even do Initiation before the roll, that just as my character was about to draw his dagger, he sees into the guard's eyes and suddenly takes pity on him, and asks the guard if he can get in: "Why yes of course!"
However, this would be "after" in the sense that the mechanical choice of involving the Trait "Killer instinct" entails a constraint on the fiction that will essentially be produced after that choice, (...)
(BTW, if either Misha or Ron can show me how "Partial Invocation" could beneficially replace "before", I'd be grateful, I don't think I get it yet.)

Vincent says that In a Wicked Age's Forms work in a "before" manner. "After" doesn't work. If I understand that game correctly, Forms are invoked after Execution has been described.

I'm wondering if the Pool would similarly crash if played with resolution after Execution (I think Vincent used to abbreviate that IIE*E) and an "after" interpretation of rules. I'm thinking yes, because it'd be much harder to integrate the trait into the fiction in just the execution (and even then, it would be so much smoother to just mention the Trait in the Execution so as to make a nice introduction for the Execution narration).


I think this a good point for me to stop and see what Ron has to say for the while being.



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Regards,
Christoph
Ron Edwards
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« Reply #21 on: December 18, 2008, 11:55:25 AM »

Hi Christoph,

I find myself attracted to the term "markusian traits." It would at least save us having to say "as defined in this series of threads blah blah" over and over.

Quote
]Basically, our Monologues of Victory granted Narrational and Content Authority (perhaps even Situation, I can't recall clearly enough to tell), whereas Ron leaves Content Authority in the GM's hands at all times (see Silent Railroading and the Intersection of Scenario Prep & Player Authorship) and as far as I can recall, we used to put resolution just after Intention (see Vincent Baker's explanation of Intent, Initiation, Execution, Effect). I'm not quite sure where Ron puts it.

This is what I wanted to focus on regarding Drift. Callan brought up the interesting issue of Drift from what, and since The Pool is essentially an inspired second draft, it basically forces a degree of both rules-interpretation and agenda-interpretation upon a group. When I first read it, it slotted hard into various parts of my own views and needs, but that doesn't mean it will do the same for others. I could invoke James' endorsement of my interpretations, but that would be cheating and I'm OK with staying just with the text. My point is that, given that text, what process is it by which you and I arrive at "how we play The Pool?"

My current thinking is that it's not Drift, but perhaps that's based on this particular game being a draft. Going to my L5R example, not only did we as a group fire fast & hard straight toward Narrativist play (in fact, the GM was probably the least automatically inclined that way, but was faced with three sabre-toothed Narrativists with neurotic, intense characters), but we were rather brutal toward the Glory and Honor rules which did not make any sense to us, eventually recasting them to fit what we needed. By the old definition, we quite definitely Drifted that game, as I said in the earlier post. So if that's the case, why wouldn't it be Drift for The Pool? Which is pretty much Markus' point which began the thread. And which still seems to me to indicate that the term isn't really useful and needs to be broken into meaningful parts.

To address your specific comparison, I don't think it's about IIEE* so much as Authority. Your example differs from my way to play The Pool not in the placement of the roll so much as in whether the player can say there's a deeply burrowed megalithical construction around here at all. In the least flexible interpretation, if such constructions had not been prepped or were not consistent with some kind of prep, then the only possible narrations of the outcome are "you puzzle about and stay puzzled" for a failure and "you definitely, certainly, and without doubt establish that no such construction is present" for a success. If the player were narrating instead of the GM, that would not change a thing.

The point is whether a roll in The Pool is about transferring Content Authority or merely Outcome Authority. If it's the former, then rolls to establish "what's here" or "what's going on around here" will be a big part of the game. If it's the latter, as I favor, then rolls of this kind are significantly diminished in importance - used not so much for "looking around" as for those rare moments when perception and knowledge become crucial to a driving, immediate conflict.

I don't quite see your distinction between narrations about searching for the monolith, either. "Something distracts you and you never find out" is just as clear and straightforward as "You grub around in the mud and don't find anything" - either would be fine narrations of a failed roll by the GM in response to your "I'm looking for such-and-such." I don't see one as more fiction-constrained than the other, or anything to do with the placement of resolution relative to Execution.

Quote
Ok, so that's one point I wanted to raise: is Content Authority "safer" depending on when in the IIEE process resolution is invoked?

Interesting question. My call is that Content Authority is equally "safe" no matter when resolution mechanics kick in during IIEE. What makes it "unsafe" is whether Content can be improvised into play at all, and if so, whether by more than one person. (I think I understand you to mean that this "safety," or its lack, is neither a good thing nor a bad thing, which is how I'm treating your question. One of the points of shifting-narration mechanics, after all, is to generate some fruitful experiences outside of the "un-safe" zone in that regard.)

Regarding Traits in The Pool, I'll pull out a bit of your text:

Quote
However, this would be "after" in the sense that the mechanical choice of involving the Trait "Killer instinct" entails a constraint on the fiction that will essentially be produced after that choice, (...)
(BTW, if either Misha or Ron can show me how "Partial Invocation" could beneficially replace "before", I'd be grateful, I don't think I get it yet.)

I think you just answered your own question, to some extent. It's all a matter of whether there's a communicated recognition of the trait's "presence" in the material played so far. We haven't really talked much about After trait usage yet.

To muse on that a little ... arguably, play can constructively shift to a more "Before" context once the trait has been used as After many times ... hey, maybe that's what Callan was talking about in the [Legends of Alyria] Traits! Traits! thread, which I said I didn't get. I'll have to think that over for a while and post later. At present, I don't think that simply using the Killer Instinct at all immediately embeds it into the moment of play for any later roll; there are lots more variables that can only be nailed down for a real moment of play to establish that.

Vincent ought to weigh in regarding In a Wicked Age, partly because I have only read the game and not played it, and partly because I know he's wrestled with this issue for a while in his designs. As I see it, trait-stuff in his games tends to play very close to the boundary of Before and After, which means a solid thread about that would be welcome. I can even think of times when we kind of went one way or another with it during a given session of Dogs in the Vineyard. I'd really like to see frank accounts of playing In a Wicked Age which illustrate the "crash" Vincent is talking about.

Quote
I'm wondering if the Pool would similarly crash if played with resolution after Execution (I think Vincent used to abbreviate that IIE*E) and an "after" interpretation of rules. I'm thinking yes, because it'd be much harder to integrate the trait into the fiction in just the execution (and even then, it would be so much smoother to just mention the Trait in the Execution so as to make a nice introduction for the Execution narration).

You never know for sure, but I think it would. But that's only considering the existing text. A game-framework that supported exactly that combination via the rest of its rules should work OK. Universalis, for instance, does pretty much what you describe, right? Arguably, a group which wanted to play The Pool that way might even introduce such a framework on their own and thus not crash.

Best, Ron
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Callan S.
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« Reply #22 on: December 18, 2008, 08:41:26 PM »

I'll just clarify on the before and after traits, as the other thread has been closed. It's a logistics error.

If my 'after' trait use MUST be taken into account in someone elses narration, then if they attempt to use an 'after' trait which would naturally involve narration that does not take that first 'after' trait use into account, then this traits use is in violation of the rules. Therefore the only correct useage of this 'after' trait is one that fits into the prior narration. In practical terms, this makes it identical to a 'before' trait. It has been completely neutered as an 'after' trait.

I'd almost call it the impossible trait use before breakfast.

To get past the impossibleness, the correct wording would be that when an after trait is used, it MUST be taken into account in narration. BUT further uses of 'after' traits are an exception. These do not have to fit into the narration at all (the user may choose to use ones that fit, but he does NOT have to and that is valid, within the rules system use).

And that's it.

Just for backgrounds sake, the raw use, no exemptions use of 'has' in "whoever narrates what happens, has to take my character's XXX into account" either has rather strong, unexpected implications, or the users flip flop with each trait, seemingly at random either recognising a narration must fit, or 'forgetting', ignoring the subtle yet powerful implication seemingly at will yet without acknowledgement of choice ("It just makes sense!")*. Which for me, might to a degree explain about fifteen years of personal "WTF????" on seeing that nigh random flip flop being stated as 'it makes sense'. To me it makes sense about as much as wrestling is real - ie, as much as you decide to believe in it and not an iota more. But I'm really just venting now.

Probably most just see this as semantics. I'd say this is an incredible cornerstone discovered and that will become increasingly apparent over time.

* This probably ties into this thread as strong source of drift.
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Christoph Boeckle
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« Reply #23 on: December 19, 2008, 07:48:51 AM »

Ron, my distinction between "Something distracts you and you never find out" and "You grub around in the mud and don't find anything" is purely stylistic. My aesthetic preferences have me prefer the former over the latter in the general case (I don't want to play no mud-covered idiot, I want to give a good image of my character!)
At the time, we were grappling with the problematic descriptions some systems incited:
Player: "I swing my sword at the orc and lope off his head!"
Missed roll.
GM: "Erm, actually no. The sword hits... the wall behind him..."

I realize that the IIEE breakdown we used was inappropriate and that we could have found something way more adapted, leading to smoother narration (one effective method is to let the player do the narration: he'll guarantee his character's credibility way better than the wall-hitting example). The breakdown I presented has probably more to do with the way we learnt to deal with the interface between resolution and narration than a fundamental phenomenon.

So when I talk about "safe" use of Content Authority in MoVs, it has to do about a certain discipline of narrating the various aspects of IIEE in accordance with the resolution system. I always hated having to come back and say "actually no, instead this...", I was all for seamless, system-constrained, narration.
Of course, Polaris has those magical key phrases which make the very fact of narrating the most drastic Effects part of effectual conflict negotiation, so, that was another revolution for me, but perhaps beside the point.

Hmm, this has probably some cultural origin too. French roleplaying is huge on investigation. I'd say that about 90% of the internet discourse on scenario creation and "what roleplaying is" somehow leads up to the discussion of how it's important to prepare a good framework for investigations. Actually, most paper-published scenarios are some form of investigation too. The only other solution is mission oriented solving of problems (be it cleaning a dungeon or infiltrating a mega-corp.), but this is obviously much too tactical and basic to be true roleplaying (although from time to time everyone enjoys it of course). Problem is that you need a good GM to prepare it and good players to figure out the preparation.
(There's a lot of sarcasm in that last paragraph, don't take it as a literal view of the French roleplaying scene.)
This was perhaps one of the reasons why we wanted investigations to give a greater importance to player creativity and so we made the assumption that Content was part of the deal with MoVs.

Hey, when I came to the Forge (in... 2004?) this was supposed to be the site where all the wacky designers talked about their funky designs, of course MoVs couldn't just be about Outcome Authority! there had to be something that would topple our conception of roleplaying over its head! and that's what the Pool did, in practice, although not quite the way James V. West had designed it apparently.


Hello Callan, I'd appreciate some actual play examples, because I'm not understanding anything you describe in terms of my own actual play. Your alleviation of the "impossibility" for "after" traits seem to me to be superfluous, in the sense that otherwise we're not talking about "after" traits in the first place (it's either "before" or just plain wrong play by the guy who doesn't take it into account at all, or another one).
Also, I don't see the use of traits on such a long time-scale. I've understood this discussion of "after" and "before" to be purely based on the immediate conflictual situation. Of course, my "Killer Instinct" trait example would be "before" if we took the whole history of play into account, but then we wouldn't be distinguishing between "has already been mentioned (or is obvious when pointed out) in the situation leading to the resolution of the present conflict" and "will be used once mechanical resolution of the present conflict is done, as part of the narrational resolution of the present conflict". Then again I could be wrong.
I also don't understand the "flip flop" you're referring to.

Also, how is any of this related to Drift (I don't mean this as a challenge, I just don't get it)? As a matter of fact, I don't even see how my example could be part of the discussion of Drift, so perhaps Ron can weigh in here too. Oh, perhaps our group's particular adoption of the Pool was a Drift to get something coherent in our aim of "doing Cthulhu and PlaneScape like we want it to be" (since using the classical system proved to be quite random in it's outcomes).
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Regards,
Christoph
Callan S.
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« Reply #24 on: December 20, 2008, 10:47:18 PM »

Hi Ron,

On the topic of drift, I dunno! If just following a certain procedure is repugnant unless you also do X (have that talk, in this case), to me that still doesn't make X part of the procedure. I think treating X as if it's part of the procedure is either drift or important to the topic of drift. I think the narrativist shift was further drift on top of that.
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