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Author Topic: I learned about System from Munchkins  (Read 9585 times)
Callan S.
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« Reply #15 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.
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contracycle
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« Reply #16 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.
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Daniel B
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« Reply #17 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.
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Callan S.
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« Reply #18 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.
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contracycle
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« Reply #19 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?
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contracycle
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« Reply #20 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.
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Daniel B
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Co-inventor of the Normal Engine


« Reply #21 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!
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Ford: "Why? What did she tell you?"
Arthur: "I don't know. I didn't listen."
Callan S.
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« Reply #22 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).
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contracycle
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« Reply #23 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. 
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Jasper Flick
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« Reply #24 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?
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Daniel B
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« Reply #25 on: January 11, 2010, 11:10:57 AM »

Hmm ..

Good points
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Ford: "Why? What did she tell you?"
Arthur: "I don't know. I didn't listen."
contracycle
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« Reply #26 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.
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"He who loves practice without theory is like the sailor who boards ship without a rudder and compass and never knows where he may cast."
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Jasper Flick
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« Reply #27 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?
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contracycle
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« Reply #28 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)
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Jasper Flick
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« Reply #29 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.
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