Is this reality

edited July 17 in Story Games
Here is my translation of something that a friend of mine, Måns is his name, (little known Swedish fact: the å is a variant of o rather than a variant of a) wrote in Swedish just now.
Ok, I think I’ve figured out where the snag is. Blorb is gameplay. I got a bit confused by the talk of “for real” but of course that’s to be understood as “for real in the game”. Now I’m on the same page.

The blorb gives a “real” experience. But it doesn’t have to be realistic. It’s two different types of real.

The blorb creates its own reality and that really happens.
In other words, it’s “real” like a chess game. Things happen in the chess game beyond just what’s in the transcript. That doesn’t mean that bishops in the real life vatican only can move diagonally or whatever.

When we say “happen” in the blorb we mean that it really happened in game (even offscreen, sometimes) and not in a cutscene or scripted event.

This was a missing puzzle piece for me and I appreciate his insight.

Comments

  • Yes. When I say things like "when we retroactively correct our impression of the Game State, it was always that way in the Game State," I'm talking about the for real in the Game State aspect.
  • That clarifies things a lot.

    I would phrase it something like thus, personally:

    “When we retroactively correct our impression of the fictional reality, we also commit to treating that fact as though it was *always* the case.”

    This means that it doesn’t matter if we were right or wrong in the first place, or if our correction is accurate... what matters is our commitment to pretending this is all real.

    We prefer to be right more often than not, so we stick to prep and similar touchstones, but our game doesn’t just fall apart if we get something wrong (which, I think, is the natural conclusion we’d have to draw if we said that the imagined was Actually Real).
  • My only concern about this notion of realness is that in chess there's no tier 3 truth where we make up something in the spot (at least, not frequently used), but in blorb, or at least in roleplaying, there is such a thing, so at best the game state would be a bit muddy in my mind, even more so while a GM is still learning.
    My question is, what determines the realness of an rpg experience, according to blorb? Even in an unblorby game, there are multiple tier 1 truths*. And in a blorby campaign, there might be in principle a few tier 3 truths. Where's the hard line drawn for real vs unreal and why?

    *I could even imagine an unblorby campaign that's been going for so long, that a solid game state developed over the months.

    Related to this: does this realness property grow as a group accumulates sessions in a campaign?

  • *I could even imagine an unblorby campaign that's been going for so long, that a solid game state developed over the months.

    Related to this: does this realness property grow as a group accumulates sessions in a campaign?
    My impression is that this happens quite a lot. Vincent related how it happened in his Ars Magica game in an earlier thread, for instance.

    I feel it’s important to distinguish feelings of “real ness” (which can be pretty personal and subjective) from blorb techniques, which can be used to great effect in games which don’t “feel real” in this sense to the participants.

  • edited July 17
    I think diegetic realness could be called "reality" in the Baudrillardian sense, i.e., reality is the phenomenological perception that one calls "real," even though it is in fact a simulation because one never knows "objective reality."

    When it comes to realness in the sense of "feeling real" or "jibing with our notion of the game world," the word "verisimilitude" might be better (though it is a mouthful).
  • My only concern about this notion of realness is that in chess there's no tier 3 truth where we make up something in the spot (at least, not frequently used), but in blorb, or at least in roleplaying, there is such a thing, so at best the game state would be a bit muddy in my mind, even more so while a GM is still learning.
    In chess, you still decide which move to make, often on the spot.
    *I could even imagine an unblorby campaign that's been going for so long, that a solid game state developed over the months.

    Related to this: does this realness property grow as a group accumulates sessions in a campaign?
    Game worlds tend to get more established as a game goes on. This is one of the benefits of playing a longer game, for those who enjoy a game world that feels/is real.

    Also, every game (with a notion of time or causality) has a game state. Or, more accurately, every game can be modelled in such a way that it has a game state.
  • Khimus, you are right. The whole 3-truth thing is the core of a lot of dissatisfaction with blorby procedures. From two directions: it's not flexible enough (making it unsatisfying, safe, boring if you go "off prep") and it's too flexible (making it step on the toes of the other blorb principles). I'm not super happy with it!

    (And your question yes it grows. Even the most unblorby campaign might develop into feeling very solid once enough salient elements have been injected into the game state that further injection or manipulation of them isn't an issue.)
  • edited July 17
    In chess, you still decide which move to make, often on the spot
    But that's not equivalent to a tier 3 truth, it's just a player move. Rpgs have player moves too, and they apparently don't compromise the blorb. I'm talking about content or situations the GM hasn't prepped and for which there's no table or randomizer available. It happens in rpgs pretty frequently. It doesn't happen in chess, unless in a weird exception like a piece that fell off the table and nobody remembers where it was.
  • edited July 17
    But that's not equivalent to a tier 3 truth, it's just a player move. Rpgs have player moves too, and they apparently don't compromise the blorb. I'm talking about content or situations the GM hasn't prepped and for which there's no table or randomizer available. It happens in rpgs pretty frequently. It doesn't happen in chess, unless in a weird exception like a piece that fell off the table and nobody remembers where it was.
    I think there are two ways of looking at this.

    1. The principles of blorb tell what moves the GM can make. The third principle says to go boring and expected if there are no other compelling causes of actions. This leaves certain room for the game master to make their choice.

    Likewise, in chess, the rules restrict the players to certain moves, but they have freedom of action within the options - sometimes more, sometimes less, depending on the current game state, much as the game master running a roleplaying game. ("Safe and boring" on the dead ice moon is more restricted than in a metropolis.)

    2. The rules of the game provide restrictions on what the players and the game master can do. The principles of blorb are best practices for the game master. Similar things in chess would be catalogues of opening moves and not having your queen eaten.

    I suspect interpretation one is more fruitful for blorby design, but both are good to keep in mind.
  • I wouldn't compare a tier 3 truth to the handful of options players have at their disposal in chess. Those are just the rules. I'm talking about situations where there's a question about the game state, but the game state holds no answer to it. For example when players manage to run into an unprepped location or when they ask a single question about a prepped location and the prep says nothing about it. In those situations, even a safe and boring answer might be used by players in a conflict (becomes salient, or stops being color). Such a thing doesn't happen in chess, that's what I'm saying. The game state is known, and the available operations are clear to everybody.

    A wargame for example might run into a situation where resolution is not clear and players must agree to a ruling. For example Warhammer fantasy has such an excerpt in the rules contemplating rulings.
  • edited July 17
    I remembered that the blorby way to handle such situations was to add something expected, boring and safe to the fiction. What is the problems with considering this as a rules that restricts the possible moves one can make?

    The space of moves in a roleplaying game is usually infinite, unlike in chess. (It is also infinite in football, as you can move your body in an infinite number of ways.)

    I do not see why the fact that wallpaper can become salient makes interpretation 1, above, impossible.
  • edited July 17
    Thanuir: obv engaging with adding something expected, safe, boring etc is still injecting salient entities into the gamestates. (If they weren't salient they would be wallpaper, so they're de jure salient if tier-3 is being invoked.) This goes against the spirit of the blorb. So everytime you follow the tier-3 of rule, you are literally following the blorb principles but it's a compromise. This was detailed here as one of the biggest outstanding problems with the blorb model currently.
  • edited July 17
    Khimus, you are right. The whole 3-truth thing is the core of a lot of dissatisfaction with blorby procedures. From two directions: it's not flexible enough (making it unsatisfying, safe, boring if you go "off prep") and it's too flexible (making it step on the toes of the other blorb principles). I'm not super happy with it!
    This is a good look at the issues with "Tier 3" technology, if you're aiming for a hardcore blorb style of play.

    Have you ever tried using table consensus to establish the possible range of outcomes, and then randomize between them?

    For example:

    Players: "Hey, is there anyone by the fountain?"
    You: "Hmmm. I don't know; that's not in the prep."
    Together: "Ok, let's see. There are three people in castle at the moment, Alice, Bob, and Charlie. And, of course, they could be elsewhere doing other things, meaning that there might not be anyone here." - "True, but it's the only source of potable water, and the only place to get some time to yourself out here." "Right! And the three of them work at the kitchen, so it's pretty likely someone would be here at any given time."
    You: "Ok, let's call it a 1/3 chance there's no one here. I'm going to roll a d6. On a 1-2, there's no one here. On a 3, Alice, on a 4, Bob, and on a 5, Charlie. I'm reserving 6 for something you guys aren't aware of [because your prep indicates there's a fourth character - a creature that sometimes sneaks into the castle to drink the water]."

    Then you roll the dice.

    If so, how does that feel for you in play?

    (Incidentally, that's what I meant by "you can turn any tier-3 situation into a tier-2 situation if you care enough" in an earlier conversation. I hope that clarifies things!)
    (And your question yes it grows. Even the most unblorby campaign might develop into feeling very solid once enough salient elements have been injected into the game state that further injection or manipulation of them isn't an issue.)
    This is a great description of how a game like Apocalypse World tends to go. It's extremely "unblorby" at the start, by design, but develops more and more as you play. The openness at the start makes it less "tangible", but allows other features (like being able to start playing without doing any prep, player input into the game, thematic focus, and so forth).
  • Thanuir: obv engaging with adding something expected, safe, boring etc is still injecting salient entities into the gamestates. (If they weren't salient they would be wallpaper, so they're de jure salient if tier-3 is being invoked.) This goes against the spirit of the blorb. So everytime you follow the tier-3 of rule, you are literally following the blorb principles but it's a compromise. This was detailed here as one of the biggest outstanding problems with the blorb model currently.
    Okay, I'll review. (Somewhat busy now and some time before. I'll try to catch up to WRNU at some point, too.)
  • Players: "Hey, is there anyone by the fountain?"
    You: "Hmmm. I don't know; that's not in the prep."
    Together: "Ok, let's see. There are three people in castle at the moment, Alice, Bob, and Charlie. And, of course, they could be elsewhere doing other things, meaning that there might not be anyone here." - "True, but it's the only source of potable water, and the only place to get some time to yourself out here." "Right! And the three of them work at the kitchen, so it's pretty likely someone would be here at any given time."
    You: "Ok, let's call it a 1/3 chance there's no one here. I'm going to roll a d6. On a 1-2, there's no one here. On a 3, Alice, on a 4, Bob, and on a 5, Charlie. I'm reserving 6 for something you guys aren't aware of [because your prep indicates there's a fourth character - a creature that sometimes sneaks into the castle to drink the water]."

    Then you roll the dice.

    If so, how does that feel for you in play?
    That’s how we do it sometimes. It usually feels dissatisfying and bad when it happens.
    (Incidentally, that’s what I meant by “you can turn any tier-3 situation into a tier-2 situation if you care enough” in an earlier conversation. I hope that clarifies things!)
    I don’t want to prep while running. Complete separate mindsets. Creating tier-2 is prepping.

    Also, that is still a tier-3 situation you are describing. You are making up the solution on the spot. That is tier-3.
    This is a great description of how a game like Apocalypse World tends to go. It’s extremely “unblorby” at the start, by design, but develops more and more as you play. The openness at the start makes it less “tangible”, but allows other features (like being able to start playing without doing any prep, player input into the game, thematic focus, and so forth).
    Which is exactly what I wrote when I discussed AW in the Narrativism vs… thread. First sesh a hippie game because the players are contributing to the world building. (And hippie games are off the hook.) Then the MC hunkers down, builds threat map, etc etc. Blorbifies things. Chasm width is partially addressed by universal DC threshs (7/10).

    Lumps’ take on it is that AW is about the tangibility of actions rather than objects.
    I.e. actions (moves) are a first class operand, while objects are the wallpaper.
    To me, then, having the MC injecting entities (selecting from the list of moves) is a borderline case. It’s blorby if that injection is moderated, unblorby if it’s not. There are rules for selecting among moves and their details. It comes down to if you think it’s moderated enough, if you think those rules are enough. In my own limited experience with the game, it hasn’t been enough, but I’m not taking a hard stance on that.

  • Sandra,

    Why do you think that the approach I described is "dissatisfying and bad" (for you), but Tier 2 truths in general (presumably) feel good? What's the difference?

    There might be some key in there to getting better, more satisfying play experiences.

    And that's an excellent analysis of AW! "Tangibility of actions" and "chasm width partially addressed by universal DC threshs" is a pretty good way of putting it. (And other features help, as well, like universal "hit point" threshs for all NPCs, for example, which operate to address situation resolution just like universal DC threshs do.)

    In my experience, the rules are NOT enough; not on their own. However, approaching the game with the right agenda/creative goals, in combination with those rules, works great.
  • Why do you think that the approach I described is “dissatisfying and bad” (for you), but Tier 2 truths in general (presumably) feel good? What’s the difference?
    It’s mode switching and therefore breaks (both kinds of) immersion.
    The two modes are prepping (a.k.a. character creation) vs playing (a.k.a. running).

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