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Author Topic: Looking at the idea called 'system' again  (Read 9737 times)
Callan S.
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« on: October 21, 2009, 08:42:44 PM »

From the thread on colour, which is a quote from Ron
Quote
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.
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lumpley
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« Reply #1 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

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FredGarber
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« Reply #2 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

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 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
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Callan S.
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« Reply #3 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?'

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JoyWriter
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also known as Josh W


« Reply #4 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.
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Callan S.
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« Reply #5 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.
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Ben Lehman
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« Reply #6 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.
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JoyWriter
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« Reply #7 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.
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Callan S.
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« Reply #8 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.

Quote
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.
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JoyWriter
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« Reply #9 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 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?
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Callan S.
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« Reply #10 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.

Quote
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.

Quote
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.
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Caldis
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« Reply #11 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. 
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Callan S.
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« Reply #12 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.
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contracycle
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« Reply #13 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.
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Caldis
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Posts: 392


« Reply #14 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.

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