Mythic Playstyle - Broken off from "randomization vs feeling real"

edited July 26 in Story Games
Hello,
Perhaps we should jump to another thread for deeper exposition of the Mythic Playstyle?
This thread was broken off of @David_Berg's randomization vs feeling real at the wise and thoughtful behest of @AsIf.

Hi @AsIf,
Jay: now I'm adrift! I'm wondering where NPC Mercutio's motives originally came from, and I assume it was the GM (correct me if I'm wrong). I then assume that Players can make rolls that interact with or push upon those motives, but if you're saying they cannot literally constrain or reverse those options it makes the whole thing seem rather (here's that word again): railroady, does it not? As though the path of the Myth is predestined, and all the Players can do is color it or produce slight modulations in its vector along the way.
Just to make sure we're both on the same page let me clarify what I referring to by "myth". The myth tradition I am referring is not found in the Greek myths or the Vikings Sagas that we have today. I am referring to the myths used in pre-literate tribal cultures. They are an oral tradition and both the corpus and "meanings" constantly evolve and grow with each telling and need. These myths are neither stories nor narratives in form or purpose. In one very, very narrow sense they are a kind of musing about any particular topic of interest. In a rather oblique way the method of their telling can be thought of as similar to improv jazz. Each telling is unique in that it is not, nor is it meant to be, a perfect retelling of an existing myth. The speaker of the myth is expected to both play with the structure of the original myth but also stay true to its purpose. This means that myths are both aesthetically pleasing and they only really live in the moment they are being told. Going back to the improv jazz analogy while a recording can be made of the aural component what is lost is the creativity that is happening in the Right Now which is a critical component of improv jazz. Imagine tightrope walking one foot of the ground. Not easy to a beginner but failure isn't that much of a risk. Now put that rope 100 feet in the air. The act of walking a rope is much more exciting and interesting. Take away the safety net. Now we're talking about what makes tightrope walking so gripping to watch. There's a vitality to live improv performances that just doesn't exist anywhere else. So it is with myth as lived by preliterate tribal cultures. The myth I am talking about. This myth is not just a recreation or an art form. It is lived and it gives life meaning and structure.

There is an analogy to how myth functions in the art process of bricolage. The basic rules are that you can't "engineer" a new part ad nihilo to meet a specific need but must use what is already at hand with all the attendant "problems" or entailments said part brings to the project. The process is absolutely additive so once a piece has been used it can never be removed. So if, for example, you needed a localized heat source you can't create a heating element that is perfect for your specific needs. You have to use what's already available to you from what has been called the bricoleur's closet. So for this example we'll say that a clothes iron is your best fit, but when you use it you find it is too heavy (this would be an entailment) and the project starts to collapse. You can't remove the iron as the process must be additive so you rummage through your closet and find a big helium balloon and use that. But it turns out the balloon is too buoyant (another entailment) and so you must deal with that issue by adding something from the bricoleur's closet to deal with that problem and so on.

Myth works in this way but the closet is filled with uncountable things. The "things" that fill the "closet" of the mythic thinker can be just about anything you can imagine existing or happening in the world - eagles, childbirth, seasons, solar eclipses, other myths, etc. The thing is that myth works on a structural level and the relationships created by bringing these things into contact with each other rather than an abstract level. So if an eagle is used as part of a myth telling then the next time the eagle is used in the future in another myth telling all the relationships that eagle picked up in the earlier myth are included with the Eagle in this new usage. This continues until these "things" each have enormously dense meaning structures (entailments) which makes using them so interesting and fun to use! Eventually it gets to the point where the original use of the "eagle" is no longer the intended structure needed but rather some of the entailments associated with it that accumulated with it over centuries of repeated usage.

Here's a key part in to making all this work. Whenever a "pristine" object is employed for the first time what "meanings" that are ascribed to it always point back to the tribesman or "humanity" is some important way. This creates a relationship between the "things" and people. So as the process continues the myth created is always meaningfully bound to the people who created them. While literate culture thought tries to be outward focused and "objective" myth is inward focused and supremely subjective. To the literate west the world is and we happen to be in it. To the myth living cultures the world is meaningful and purposeful.

How does this relate to role-play? In the agenda of play that I've been playing for the last 25 years and trying to suss out is really a watered down form of myth. This has some very important implications regarding the structure and form of play itself. The first is that this agenda of play supremely subjective. This means that what you're being told as a player via your character is subjective perception and not objective truth. In play this means each player via their character is going to have a different experience of play and of the play session. This also means a very minimum of abstractions like overt resolution mechanics. This also means that resolution mechanics can not be deterministic. Every action is run through the bricolage or myth thinking process and from there an resolution is made - usually with entailments.

This works because myth is normative. As it is a thinking process it can resolve events. Abstracted deterministic resolution mechanics are orthogonal to mythic thinking. This doesn't mean randomizers can't be used, but rather how they are used is radically different. Since the GM is also a bricoleur along with the rest of the players he too is tightly bound by the normative nature of myth. He cannot be objective as he too must highly attuned to the myth that is being created. Going back to the improv jazz analogy just because the lead soloist might have chosen the standard and the chordal progression he cannot dictate how the other soloists can riff. However these improvisations are not random but are constrained and informed by musical theory, local styles, the instrument being played, the soloist's relationship to the standard, his current mood, what the other soloists have played that night, etc.

You mentioned the problem of "railroading" but if one is playing in the myth style there is no story or narrative structure for the GM to push. What he does do is seed the closet of items with NPCs who have motives and perhaps history (entailments), locations, items, set up meaningful relationships between "things" and so on. What he doesn't do is layer a story on top and drive play in that direction. The point of this mode of play is to see and allow players to bricole while the GM constantly seeds "things" and entailments.

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    Yes, railroading (really player deprotagonization) can and frequently does happen when people grope in the dark for this mode of play. Some have intuited it well and have had tremendous success ala Dave Arneson. When everyone is jazzing and riffing together you get something that is tremendously powerful. We've had riot police show up - not that the players were rioting but the game got that loud and involved. We've had new players just completely lock and in one case we thought a player was near to having a stroke! In the end he said that it was the best gaming experience in his life but that he could never play again as he played to relax. Just last Friday we had someone come up to us and ask if he could film us playing.

    I believe, at this point, that there is little middle ground in this mode of play. Either the GM doesn't understand (at least intuitively) how to run it and thus ends up "railroading" play or the play is out of this world. One problem is that there are no mechanics to "direct" play and are specifically designed to remove GM agency. Another problem is this prevailing idea that there must be an objective resolution system which by its nature is anathema to mythic play. Another major traditional problem is the long prevailing idea that the GM is adversarial to player interests rather than a facilitator.

    The neat thing about myth is that because it is supremely subjective is that one could say it's play style could be called "Meaningful Now". As I indicated above tribal cultures live myth which shapes their map of reality. You mentioned earlier about the feeling of "realness." I really don't know how to quantify that feeling but myth is specifically used to create a structured reality so the people can live their lives with purpose and meaning. If that doesn't touch on "reality" I don't know what does.

    I don't know if any of this helps, but this is what I've got so far.

    Best,

    Jay
  • Jay,

    We've discussed this in some detail, and over a long period of time. I've found it fascinating, but been fairly confused and lost in both Lehrich's dense writing on the subject and the "jazz" analogy you've used.

    However, here you have simplified the ideas and you're writing with far more clarity. Beautifully done! I don't know how of much of this is due to my familiarity with some "actual play" from your group, but this is making far more sense to me now, and this formulation of the idea allows me to understand why you see improvised jazz as an appropriate analogy.

    I think this is the best formulation of the idea yet!

    I have some questions for you:

    * While I know and understand why your group doesn't use "deterministic" resolution techniques in your game, do you think there might ways to achieve "mythic play" (or whatever we want to call it) with deterministic resolution techniques?

    It seems to me that it would entirely possible. The key becomes not in the mechanics themselves, but in their application by the group. The idea would be that the application of these techniques becomes a form of bricolage in itself.

    I have an example of this over here:

    http://www.story-games.com/forums/discussion/comment/455392/#Comment_455392

    We are playing a game called Monsterhearts, which has a rule for when one character attacks another. However, in this scene, no one is being attacked. One character is stepping on another's glasses. However, we decided to use this particular rule to highlight this moment and give it emotional depth, and it worked perfectly.

    Could this be a tiny example of mythic play? What do you think?

    * I'm trying to understand what you mean when you saying that "there is no middle ground". I believe you're referring to railroading when you say that. Why do you feel that the "middle ground" isn't a viable area for play? And do you mean that it's *undesireable*, or, more strongly, that it's *not even possible*?

    It seems to me that mythic play with a GM - and especially play without deterministic or objective resolution mechanics - is always going to be very vulnerable to railroading concerns. (It's possible that this is a feature, not a bug, too, of course, if we see railroading as just another tool in the bricoleur's bag of tricks.)
  • edited July 25
    This is beautiful. It jibes in a lot of ways with the experience I shoot for when running DayTrippers, but bear in mind that DT is a deliberate hybrid of "Trad" and "Modern" techniques (similar to what Paul is suggesting, perhaps).

    This may have been my stumbling block when thinking of the Mythic Playstyle, since when running DT I am definitely engaging in a form of bricolage, but I am also guided by a Narrative Structure which might best be seen as a template for tension levels over the course of a session (which we call an "episode"). The arc of the Narrative Structure functions as a guide for the GM but also a constraint, and has the added benefit of allowing me to predict the length of the session beforehand (give or take 10 minutes).

    I avoid the rail problem on the Plot level (which I call "horizontal control") by handing over the keys to the Players (the content of the game is fueled by "Psychic Content" arising from the Players themselves), but I retain "roading" in the sense that when the time is right (according to the narrative template), I use the current moment as a chance to ramp tension up or decrease it. This I call "vertical control."

    But all of this is an aside.

    I'd love to see some of those APs Paul refers to. Are they up here?

  • Well put, Tod!

    (And, no, that AP material isn't public. But perhaps the group will someday accede to those offers to film a bit of their game! They have something truly unusual happening there, so it would be great to have it documented.)
    when running DT I am definitely engaging in a form of bricolage, but I am also guided by a Narrative Structure which might best be seen as a template for tension levels over the course of a session (which we call an "episode"). The arc of the Narrative Structure functions as a guide for the GM but also a constraint
    I'm only guessing when I say this, but I would eat my socks if it didn't turn out that Cary (the GM of the Middle Earth game Jay is talking about) didn't do this, at some level. I think that's a pretty good description, too (I'm glad you got something useful from our rail/roading debates a few years ago!).
  • Hi Paul,

    I'm delighted this latest formulation was helpful for you. I've been in communication with Chris recently and he's really helped me sort this out. You are reading the immediate fruits of the gracious aide he has given to me.
    * While I know and understand why your group doesn't use "deterministic" resolution techniques in your game, do you think there might ways to achieve "mythic play" (or whatever we want to call it) with deterministic resolution techniques?

    It seems to me that it would entirely possible. The key becomes not in the mechanics themselves, but in their application by the group. The idea would be that the application of these techniques becomes a form of bricolage in itself.

    I have an example of this over here:

    http://www.story-games.com/forums/discussion/comment/455392/#Comment_455392

    We are playing a game called Monsterhearts, which has a rule for when one character attacks another. However, in this scene, no one is being attacked. One character is stepping on another's glasses. However, we decided to use this particular rule to highlight this moment and give it emotional depth, and it worked perfectly.

    Could this be a tiny example of mythic play? What do you think?
    It certainly is an example of bricolage WRT the repurposing of the mechanic itself. You faced a situation where you didn't have the perfect tool handy so you looked in your bricoleur's closet and you had this rule, but it was made for physical attacks. However one of the entailments of a physical attack is violence. Hmmmm... What the PC is looking to do is a form of violence. Its a form of emotional violence. Ok. We can take this situation where we have emotional violence and put it in contact with this Mechanic for physical violence and now we have something that works...good enough! I don't know how "downsides" work so I can't comment on that.

    However where the break from mythic play comes is that the resolution mechanic dictated some sort of negotiated fall out. In mythic play all those "things", the werewolf's feelings for the girl, the dominance display, their previous relationship, the relationship of the glasses to the girl, the bullying the other girls had just doled out, the pressures on the werewolf to act in accordance to his culture, the relationship between the world of the werewolves and that of mortals, the already hurting emotional state of the girl, the idea of how just petty such an act really is, etc., and what all those things meant (entailments) all would have been playing in the heads of players without need of a mechanical system to force the players to make a choice. It's all inherent in the "things" of the scene and their relationships with each other. The juice of mythic play is in deciding right then in the moment what to do and the possible entailments the character would suffer.

    An example of how this could have played out is that the player of the werewolf looks around in real life as if was checking to see if people were watching and then mime grinding the glasses into the ground while closing his eyes for just a moment as if he were in pain followed by a look of disdain for his girl. Improv the emotion in the moment - don't have the mechanic tell you that you must feel an emotion. My goodness! How could anyone not? Yet, if the player of the werewolf showed no emotion, then my goodness! What does that say?

    Mythic play lies in reading those known and potential entailments and pulling them into play. Or at least it's a part of the overall play process. Still working this part out for myself.
    * I'm trying to understand what you mean when you saying that "there is no middle ground". I believe you're referring to railroading when you say that. Why do you feel that the "middle ground" isn't a viable area for play? And do you mean that it's *undesireable*, or, more strongly, that it's *not even possible*?
    My current thought is that the game play will either be awesome or it will suck badly. There's no mechanics system to steer or give direction to play. Its entirely up to the players and if one or more of them don't like this mode or doesn't understand how to read situations and paint in entailments then it doesn't work for anyone. Everyone has to be on the same page if this sense of fictionally created subjectivity is going to hold. Imagine a improv jazz quartet and one player doesn't know music theory or the standard or can't work out the chordal progression or it's the first time with the instrument. What will that do to overall experience and the music that is created? Any one problem and everything quickly falls apart. The subjective experience is terrible and the created music is awful.

    I could be wrong on this as I'm still working this out and could use more data points. But as I don't that's my very tentative position right now.
    It seems to me that mythic play with a GM - and especially play without deterministic or objective resolution mechanics - is always going to be very vulnerable to railroading concerns. (It's possible that this is a feature, not a bug, too, of course, if we see railroading as just another tool in the bricoleur's bag of tricks.)
    This I will address tomorrow.

    Best,

    Jay
  • edited July 26
    Jay,

    I’m not sure why you think that those “known and potential entailments” aren’t being drawn into play in my example.

    The way I see it, the order of operations is just slightly different - we agreed to them *before the roll*, but we still agreed to them precisely *because* they served our needs perfectly. Those “known and potential entailments” are what we used to make the decision to use that rule, and it was precisely because its consequences were perfect for the situation we were playing out.

    Of course, this distinction might be a key component in understanding mythic play, or it could be a total red herring... :)
  • edited July 26
    Hi Paul,
    The way I see it, the order of operations is just slightly different - we agreed to them *before the roll*, but we still agreed to them precisely *because* they served our needs perfectly.
    As I mentioned before I'm still working out the ideas and how to present them.

    However lets go back to the now useful improv jazz analogy with the spotlight on the key element of creativity in the moment, totally unprepared.

    To borrow from your quote above -
    ...we agreed to them *before the roll*...
    This is how it would look at an improv jazz session.

    You have your soloist who is improving and generates this interesting piece of music that's just begging for some type of resolution....but he stops playing. He consults his band mates and they discuss the various possibilities latent in the music he just improvised. They come to an agreement on the best (insert the proper musical terminology that I don't know but suggests how the melody line should continue and in what key and timing) way to proceed and the soloist picks up where he left off.

    Is that improv jazz? Or in that moment did the soloists compose a short piece of music that was then played? Also consider that while they are talking about music, maybe using music theory vocabulary to converse about the possibilities, the one thing they aren't doing is playing music! Even if that act of overt considered composition is still considered improv jazz, has not the vitality of the act of creation in the moment been lost? In fact we have left improv behind for consideration. That, to me, makes a huge difference. Is not that improvisational nature definitional to improv jazz?

    Music not happening = mythic bricolage not happening. But more than that, the aural aspect is gone and soon the energy and momentum that came with it quickly dissipates. The moment is gone. The experience is interrupted. This is what deterministic resolution mechanics do to mythic play.

    Best,

    Jay
  • edited July 27
    Hi Paul,
    It seems to me that mythic play with a GM - and especially play without deterministic or objective resolution mechanics - is always going to be very vulnerable to railroading concerns. (It's possible that this is a feature, not a bug, too, of course, if we see railroading as just another tool in the bricoleur's bag of tricks.)
    Here we come again to the problem of the idea that the GM's play goals are always somehow antagonistic to those of the players' goals. I'm not talking about Exploration level goals but CA goals. The role of the GM in mythic play is not to force a structure on a game like a premade story (which seems to be the primary concern) or to only present and reward challenges. No the role of the GM in mythic play is to facilitate bricolage.

    The real problem isn't "railroading" (which I would much rather refer to the more precise phrase - play deprotagonization) as CA clash. If we are all here to express a given CA then why would the person who is assuming the responsibilities of GM choose to ruin everyone's play? I know it happens, all too often, but the problem of player deprotagonization as you put in your question isn't a matter of resolution mechanic issues but that of social contract level problems.

    No matter what game system one is play a GM can always protagonize the players. Enjoyable games can only happen if everyone is on the same CA page. The particulars of the game matter as well (I want to play space opera and he wants to play steam punk) but that's a problem of Exploration not mechanics.

    The problem with mythic play has been primarily historic and not structural. Since the very beginning we've been instructed that the GM is the "Story Teller." While much of that got sorted out with understanding of Creative Agendas and how Gamism and Narrativism work this never got sorted out with Mythic Play. Both Gamism and Narrativism are relatively easily understood because they function at the abstract level. This is form of thinking that we are extremely versed in and are very comfortable operating at.

    Very few people understand mythic play because pre-literate myth is for all intents and purposes absent from literate cultures. We don't know it to make use of it. Except for the very rare outliers who intuit the process the hobby keeps trying to force the process of mythic play to the abstract level. Story. Plot. Rewarding successful defeat of Challenges. But no one is talking about bricolage and myth. The thing about mythic play which still blows everyone's mind is that the myth contains the "resolution mechanics". But the prevailing mode of thought is the GM agency must be curtailed or eliminated because it is always in opposition to the CA's goals. And that is true in Gamism and Narrativism. It is not true with mythic play. The GM is not outside the game but must, must, must be deeply involved in the game. Heresy! This cannot be! The GM will take over the game and ruin everything!

    Here's how you can tell is the GM is deprotagonizing player input in mythic play. He's breaking the myth and ignoring entailments in his play. However if he's doing that you have to ask why is he even attempting to GM in this CA in the first place? Is he failing because he doesn't understand myth or would he rather just be playing another CA?

    I think the most common reason is that most GM's don't understand myth - and with good reason.

    I think your concerns about player deprotagonization are primarily an accident of history and not with the lack of GM's schakeling, deterministic game mechanics.

    Best,

    Jay
  • Hi, Jay!

    I'm going to respond to your first post (and flag that, in case I don't have time to get back to the second one for some time).

    Music not happening = mythic bricolage not happening. But more than that, the aural aspect is gone and soon the energy and momentum that came with it quickly dissipates. The moment is gone. The experience is interrupted. This is what deterministic resolution mechanics do to mythic play.
    My take on this is that what you're talking about - in music - would be something like rhythm. In a roleplaying context, we might talk about the pace of play or the tempo of the game.

    I never said how quickly we came to that decision, right? Now, as it happens, I don't remember exactly (although I think it was *very* quick), but I'd like to separate the particulars of a method from its implementation.

    Consider the hypothetical that we play and find that this "move" works really well. We spend some time deliberating it, and use it in that moment. We are satisfied and happy with its outcome.

    In a future session, a similar situation comes up, and someone says, "Hey, remember that thing we did with the glasses?" Everyone agrees, and we use the same technique.

    After a long time playing the same game with the same people, we can reach for that tool instantly, without deliberation or discussion, when the circumstances are correct.

    I think that - in improvised jazz just as much as at the gaming table! - this is actually a pretty good description of how play develops over time. I bet something like this took place with your group, too, although perhaps it's now such ancient history that it's hard to remember that it did.

    I know that your group prioritizes a consistent and inexorable tempo in terms of pace of play, and very effectively. However, I see no reason (at least not yet!) to assume that this feature of the game somehow *has* to be present in order for it to qualify as "mythic play".

    Is something fundamental shifting in the game between the first session, with deliberation and stumbling around, and the "final" version, which moves much faster?

    If so, *where* does it shift? In the second session? The tenth? The hundredth?

    How do we know?

    So, I'd have to hear some arguments for why the tempo or pace of play is a determining feature of mythic play (and some explanation for why the exact same game with new players, who need more orientation and time to learn, doesn't constitute mythic play).

    The second question is about "deterministic mechanics". I'm less clear on this one, but I'm also not sure why it has to be a determining factor. In this case, though, I'm asking you a question more than trying to make a claim!

    Consider that when you play with Cary, every time he says something like, "Ok, roll a twenty-sided, but you'll need a natural 20!", or perhaps, "roll a twenty-sided, but don't roll a 1 or a 2!", you are using a deterministic mechanic. (At least as deterministic as a Monsterhearts move, anyway; those mechanics leave a lot of room for things to change and develop after the dice hit the table.)

    Does mythic play stop happening in those moments? Does it hurt the game? Would the game be "more pure" or more satisfying if Cary never did that?

    I'm very curious what you think!
  • Turns out my second response can be very short, so I do have time! Here we go:
    It seems to me that mythic play with a GM - and especially play without deterministic or objective resolution mechanics - is always going to be very vulnerable to railroading concerns. (It's possible that this is a feature, not a bug, too, of course, if we see railroading as just another tool in the bricoleur's bag of tricks.)
    Here we come again to the problem of the idea that the GM's play goals are always somehow antagonistic to those of the players' goals.

    Enjoyable game can only happen if everyone is on the same CA page. The particulars of the game matter as well (I want to play space opera and he wants to play steam punk) but that's a problem of Exploration not mechanics.
    Your post sounds like you're trying to rebut what I said, if I'm reading you correctly, but if you reread my quoted text, above, I think you'll find that I'm saying the same thing you're saying. The GM's ability to control Exploration to a very, very high extent is a feature of this kind of play, and enables certain types of bricolage. Sure!

    I'm not sure it's the *only* way to do so, but clearly it's an option.

    The problem with mythic play has been primarily historic and not structural.
    Here's where we disagree, though. I chose the term "vulnerable to" above, quite specifically and carefully.

    I don't think mythic play is impossible or that it must always devolve into railroading (or deprotagonization - I'm less certain about this more technical term, because I don't know of protagonism is always a feature of mythic play!). Rather, I think that the tools you're using make railroading concerns much more likely to arise than in other styles of play.

    There are definitely RPG designs (even ones with a strong GM presence) which make it incredibly difficult for the GM to enforce full control over Exploration, and what I know of mythic play, it seems to me, places it at the other extreme end of that spectrum.

    To be clear, I'm not at all accusing Gary or anyone else of railroading - I have no idea about that! I'm saying something more like, "the typical human being, when running a game in the mythic style, as far, far more likely to railroad her players (presumably by accident), because there are very few structural safeguards in place."

    If you wish, I could even cite an example from your own game, but I hesitate to do that, because you might take offense (seeing it as a personal attack), or, just as unproductively, find an explanation for why it's not true in that particular instance, and see that as settling the question (which would not necessarily be the case). (In other words, I have no idea whether my example is a *good* one to make my case; very likely it's a poor one!)
  • edited July 28
    Hi Tod,
    This is beautiful. It jibes in a lot of ways with the experience I shoot for when running DayTrippers, but bear in mind that DT is a deliberate hybrid of "Trad" and "Modern" techniques (similar to what Paul is suggesting, perhaps).
    I'm not sure what this means because the definitions of "Trad" and "Modern" are so poorly formulated and hazy that for myself the distinctions seem more quantitative than qualitative. FREX - to my extremely uniformed understanding it seems to me that "Trad" techniques are generally Fortune at the End mechanics and "Modern" techniques are more Fortune in the Middle. If I completely missed the mark its because the distinctions are not rigorously defined. I'm not looking to debate these terms in this thread so much as requesting, if you are interested, a reformulation of your proposition in more concrete terms.
    This may have been my stumbling block when thinking of the Mythic Playstyle, since when running DT I am definitely engaging in a form of bricolage, but I am also guided by a Narrative Structure which might best be seen as a template for tension levels over the course of a session (which we call an "episode"). The arc of the Narrative Structure functions as a guide for the GM but also a constraint, and has the added benefit of allowing me to predict the length of the session beforehand (give or take 10 minutes).
    Here we come to the crux of the issue. The important underlying question is what, as a GM bricoleur, guides our choices in introducing "things" into play. Dramatic elements are a fine model as long as they don't direct play. IOW your conceived abstracted dramatic structure element is constrained by the existing myth and doesn't ignore or break it. Nor does the introduction of the dramatic element if it does not ignore or deprotagonize the players' input.

    Consider the improv jazz analogy again. The standard is analogous to the world your playing in. The chordal progression is the GM's scenario prep. However as the GM you've got a few riff's worked out that could make some interesting transitions that would put heavy burdens on the other soloists to adjust to. In this analogy you and your quartet are riffing along and the music gets to such a point that you can seamlessly slip in this prepared riff and now the direction of the music in this moment has transitioned to something more challenging for the other soloists. However if the music never gets to the point where you can seamlessly introduce one of your prepared riffs, just jamming one in will very likely create tremendous dissonance. If, on the other hand, you are a very skilled jazz musician you can create and seamlessly introduce these transitions on the fly whenever you wish (for whatever reason you wish).

    There is nothing deprotagonizing introducing these transitional riffs into play at certain times during a performance per se. It's just that they need to flow from the music being played aesthetically.

    Sure a GM can use modern literate abstractions like increasing tension, character introduction, character exploration, combat, danger, etc. in the general sense to help guide what "things" he places into the Setting and thus the bricoleur's closet but these guides cannot dictate what "things" must be placed in game without consideration of the existing and growing myth.
    I avoid the rail problem on the Plot level (which I call "horizontal control") by handing over the keys to the Players (the content of the game is fueled by "Psychic Content" arising from the Players themselves), but I retain "roading" in the sense that when the time is right (according to the narrative template), I use the current moment as a chance to ramp tension up or decrease it. This I call "vertical control."
    As I've mentioned above, I'm twitchy about the use of the word "roading" because all roads lead to a destination (which we don't want) and what you're talking about is more situational but you've made your preference known. I like your use of "vertical control" much more than "roading" but I think I understand your proposal here and it seems functional to me.

    Best,

    Jay
  • Nothing to add, just letting you know that you are reading me right. The jazz analogy is particularly apt in this case.

  • Hi Paul,

    Music not happening = mythic bricolage not happening. But more than that, the aural aspect is gone and soon the energy and momentum that came with it quickly dissipates. The moment is gone. The experience is interrupted. This is what deterministic resolution mechanics do to mythic play.
    My take on this is that what you're talking about - in music - would be something like rhythm. In a roleplaying context, we might talk about the pace of play or the tempo of the game.
    I'm going to blunt! You missed the point of the analogy utterly and completely! :smiley:

    I'm not talking about the tempo of play. I'm talking the shifting of gears from "Music Now!" to "Composing and playing sheet music." The problem I'm highlighting isn't focused on the break in the music. Its that the musicians have stopped the action of Improvisation (= mythic bricolage) and switched to Composition and Play (= Western Literate Engineering creation).

    It's not just that the aural experience has stopped (though that is important) its that the method of play has completely switched gears. The Point of Play is to improv (bricole) and approach all problems right now improvisationally (bricolage).

    The issue I keep seeing in your questions is that you keep posing question about things from a non-improv point of view. Next time you are confused or are uncertain about what I'm posting about ask yourself if you are looking at the issue from the vantage point of improvisation or not. Many times your questions come from the compositional (Engineering - literate culture) mindset not the improvisational (Myth - nonliterate culture).
    In a future session, a similar situation comes up, and someone says, "Hey, remember that thing we did with the glasses?" Everyone agrees, and we use the same technique.

    After a long time playing the same game with the same people, we can reach for that tool instantly, without deliberation or discussion, when the circumstances are correct.
    Again you miss the main point. Yes, you've used bricolage (exactly just as Chris described a hypothetical example of bricolage being used naturally, instinctively and without much effort to alter a Rule 15 years ago) to adapt and expand a Rule. I'm talking about bricolage as play. I'm not talking about bricoleing rule to effect the SIS I'm talking about bricoleing the SIS directly.

    You're talking about the mechanics being employed that tell the players how to affect the SIS. I'm talking about the SIS as implicitly containing the means by which we judge a proposition for the SIS. You're still thinking of a two part system. Mechanics and the SIS. What I'm talking about, analogously, is the resolution system being derived from the SIS. Myth is normative. It is both means and end. You keep asking questions that seem to indicate that you still haven't grokked that basic, deal breaking fundamental.

    This isn't an attack but a critique of the method being employed to try and analyze. You're using the wrong lens. In a way your questions are category errors. You're asking me if "2 + 2 = cat."

    I think that - in improvised jazz just as much as at the gaming table! - this is actually a pretty good description of how play develops over time. I bet something like this took place with your group, too, although perhaps it's now such ancient history that it's hard to remember that it did.
    I know that your group prioritizes a consistent and inexorable tempo in terms of pace of play, and very effectively. However, I see no reason (at least not yet!) to assume that this feature of the game somehow *has* to be present in order for it to qualify as "mythic play".
    This a prime example of what you're missing. Yes, I've talking about that we like high paced play because it is exciting. High paced play is not definitional. Improv is the definition. Improving at high speed is a pleasing aesthetic choice to us that is given value precisely because we Improv. There is no game Mechanics safety net to catch us if we blow it. We are walking on that 100' high tightrope with no safety net. It is up to the player and only the player to determine how to keep their balance in the buffeting winds and make that next step.
    Is something fundamental shifting in the game between the first session, with deliberation and stumbling around, and the "final" version, which moves much faster?

    If so, *where* does it shift? In the second session? The tenth? The hundredth?

    How do we know?
    Does 2 + 2 = cat?
    So, I'd have to hear some arguments for why the tempo or pace of play is a determining feature of mythic play (and some explanation for why the exact same game with new players, who need more orientation and time to learn, doesn't constitute mythic play).
    Tempo or pace is NOT a deterministic feature of mythic play. However, just as other CA's lend themselves to commonalities of play, fast tempo is handy tool for mythic play. It is not definitional. Improv - staying within the continuous act of creating and playing music, reacting, adapting on the fly right now, and not leaving it to make decisions. That is analogous to mythic play. A quick tempo increases the demands on the players just like it would with improvisational jazz. It makes things interesting and is especially demanding when you both have to create and play at the same time but it is by no means whatsoever definitional. Improv (as in improv jazz) is the key to understanding not tempo.
    The second question is about "deterministic mechanics". I'm less clear on this one, but I'm also not sure why it has to be a determining factor. In this case, though, I'm asking you a question more than trying to make a claim!

    [...]

    (At least as deterministic as a Monsterhearts move, anyway; those mechanics leave a lot of room for things to change and develop after the dice hit the table.)
    Nevertheless there are two parts of that mechanic that pull it out of the realm of bricolage. First on stops acting on the SIS to invoke it. Second rather than letting the entailments of the SIS inform the player on whether or not his character is to feel anything for his act of crushing the glasses the game mechanic determined that the PC must suffer some fallout. In this case what fallout was negotiated by the table but that fact remains that mechanics determined that the PC must takes some sort of fallout. In mythic play we never leave the SIS and the decision on how to play the character as a result of his choices is entirely up to the player to decide. He is constrained by the totality of the myth and how it functions but the choice is made improvisationally without stopping play to discuss.

    Part 1 of 2
  • Part 2 of 2
    Consider that when you play with Cary, every time he says something like, "Ok, roll a twenty-sided, but you'll need a natural 20!", or perhaps, "roll a twenty-sided, but don't roll a 1 or a 2!", you are using a deterministic mechanic.
    No. Simple because we don't have a predetermined outcome. We, as players, might infer with a fair degree of assurity what the likely outcome of the number might be but to honest we are never truly certain. Also consider that it is what we we're doing and how we're doing it that has the greatest weight on the outcome. It may look deterministic when he states the need for a 'natural 20' but you're missing what Jeph had noted earlier in his Spicy Dice Roll Actual Play thread.
    @Jeph -

    You've got these things that look kinda like game rules at first glance, but really they're just signs used for communication, just semaphore!

    Italics added.
    When a number like a 'natural 20' is called for it is a communication from the DM to the Player that what you're doing is next to impossible. This increases tension. However what exactly happens if we succeed is never known before the roll. If we don't know what the outcome is if we succeed (or fail) then it is not, definitionally, deterministic.

    Best,

    Jay
  • Jay,

    So interesting!

    I'm sad I only have time to type two lines or so. I'll try to make them count.

    1. When it comes to improvisation and composition, you're right that we're definitely miscommunicating! Hmmmm. I wonder if the misunderstanding or miscommunication is even... somewhat philosophical foundational?

    Because, as a composer and improvising musician, I don't really see or acknowledge a clear differentiation between those two things. At best, they are poles of a continuous spectrum.

    Not sure where to go from here! Maybe you can try telling me what the Monsterhearts example would look like if it was "improvised", or what a situation from your game would like if it was "composed", but while sticking as close to wherever you see the line as possible? (Or some other to demonstrate what you mean by example?)

    2. I'm also confused by the deterministic thing. What I got from your last post is that it is important that the players *not know* exactly what will happen, no matter what, even if the semaphore technology they're using means the GM is heavily indicating something... some uncertainty remains. Is that close?

    But that's for the players. What about Cary? When he asks for that roll, is he deciding that, yes, on a 20 *this thing will happen*? He could be, yeah? If so, that's deterministic, right?

    Would that shift the game out of "mythic play"? If so, why?

    ...

    Aside: part of the issue is that you (I presume) are not familiar with Monsterhearts. Most of the results of such a "move" are not pre-determined (for instance, on a low roll, the rule is basically, "the GM says what happens, according to her own principles and agenda". But that might not matter for the sake of our discussion! I'd like to be able to understand why the deterministic parts might matter, too.
  • I might be wrong here, but I think what those mechanics do is introduce something unwelcome that we must do. They act on the fiction violently. Hopefully we find them compelling. We do riff off of them, but their role is to constrain our play. There's improv involved, but it's shaped by the moves.

    I might be completely wrong.
  • I might be wrong here, but I think what those mechanics do is introduce something unwelcome that we must do. They act on the fiction violently. Hopefully we find them compelling. We do riff off of them, but their role is to constrain our play. There's improv involved, but it's shaped by the moves.

    I might be completely wrong.
  • edited July 30
    Hi Paul,

    Below is quote from the thread entitled On RPG's and Text [Long]. While I've been talking of the analogy of Improv Jazz and how it makes a reasonable model for the Agenda of play I'm talking about the below is the real thing about the difference between text and oral tradition. Substitute Composed Music for Text and Improv Jazz for Oral Tradition. This is only an excerpt so don't get too wound up about the minor particulars.
    When I speak, it is a normative convention that you not speak at the same time, although of course we know this is violated all the time. But in what we might call the normative spoken situation, that of rational discourse, the speaker dominates the moment in time when he speaks. When I have concluded, it is now your turn to speak, at which time you dominate and I am supposed to shut up.

    Further, when I speak my linguistic production exists in time and appears serially. In order to know what I'm saying, you have to listen to it in order and at that time. After the fact, only memory exists: if you misremember what I said, there is nothing to correct you.

    In addition, in an oral situation normally a conversational model applies. If you don't understand what I'm saying, you can ask for clarification, and I will construct a new linguistic production, a new saying-my-point as it were. And over the course of the conversation, it seems that we will likely eventually come to some sort of clarity: we will agree that we have understood one another, whether we agree or disagree about the content.

    None of this is true of written text.

    There is a normative convention to the reading situation, which says that you will read left-to-right and top-to-bottom, in that order (if we are talking about English, anyway). But there is nothing to control this: you can, if you like, read backwards. Of course, it may not make a lot of sense, but I can't shout at you for violating the norm the way I can if you start to interrupt my speaking.

    Written text does not appear serially or in time. It is[/b], a fixed object, a thing to be dealt with as you choose. After you have read, you may read again. You may read pieces, then put the book down and come back to it. Any seriality or temporal bounding in text comes from the manner in which you choose to approach the text, not from the text itself.

    No conversational model holds for reading texts. If you do not understand, the author is not present in the text to reply. All you can do is try to read it again, to converse with yourself about the text. You can of course write marginalia, or shout at the book, or write criticism or a letter to the author. But none of this changes the text itself.
    There are fundamental intrinsic differences between composing music and improv jazz performances. The act of composing music is effectively writing and editing text until someone comes along and interprets the markings into a sonic experience. This process of design and revision before execution is the hallmark of Western Literate Engineering thought and it functions using abstractions. This is absolutely different from the ephemeral in the moment creation as a sonic production that is serial and temporal in nature that having been played will never be heard again.

    It appears to me that your confounding the idea of creativity (which both methods employ) with the process. They are both creative enterprises and they both create a sonic experience but they fundamentally different in how they go about what they do and how the production is created. If there was no difference between the two forms of music then there is no point in treating them differently, but we know that is not the case.

    If we cannot agree to this then we cannot progress in our conversation. This is not meant as an ultimatum but rather a recognition of the idea that until we have a common starting place we cannot effectively communicate. The conversation would then have to shift from what we want to talk about to establishing the common framework - which is something that you have stated many times that you are rather allergic to. Because of this lack of common grounding in the conversation you keep asking questions that are category errors. I present an idea and immediately you come at it from another conceptual framework that just does not apply. No functional understanding can ever arise if we don't share a common referent. So far we don't have one. I'm limited in my schooling and intellectual capacity so I ask you to make that extra effort to meet me in that middle effort.

    Let's stop the analysis of play to which you are constantly applying the wrong tools and coming to conclusions that cannot be addressed and work towards getting to that common tool set.

    FREX - Tell me your understanding of how myth functions and is created. Once we are on the same page then we can analyze play. Until then we are just talking past each other.

    Best,

    Jay
  • Jay,

    I am on board with that!

    What I don't understand is that the difference of medium in your analogies and examples ("written versus spoken", or "composed versus performed") does not exist in RPG play. If I understand you correctly, both mythic play and non-mythic play are still performed in real time.

    The correct analogy to "composed music" wouldn't be "negotiating mechanics at the table" or "using deterministic mechanics", it would be "reading our characters' lines from a script", which none of the examples we're talking about actually concern. Right? At least, that's how I see it.

    So I'm trying to understand your use of this analogy.

    Beyond that, I agree that it would help us to "go back to basics", but I feel like I'm trying to do that, and I'm not sure how to do it better. For instance, I can't tell you "how myth functions and is created", because I'm still not entirely on board with that analogy - enough that I can kind of follow what you're writing, but not well enough to say that I could define it or explain it myself.
  • Hi Paul,
    Jay,

    I am on board with that!
    Excellent! Let's see if we can eventually get to a meeting of the minds...
    What I don't understand is that the difference of medium in your analogies and examples ("written versus spoken", or "composed versus performed") does not exist in RPG play. If I understand you correctly, both mythic play and non-mythic play are still performed in real time.

    The correct analogy to "composed music" wouldn't be "negotiating mechanics at the table" or "using deterministic mechanics", it would be "reading our characters' lines from a script", which none of the examples we're talking about actually concern. Right? At least, that's how I see it.

    So I'm trying to understand your use of this analogy.
    ...and immediately we're off to a bad start. You went right back into dissecting play. I need you to give me the very best explanation of your understanding of either how pre-literate myth or bricolage works. You can be completely wrong, it doesn't matter. I need to see where I have to meet you. Don't talk about role-play in any way, shape or form. You and I engaged in the process of coming to terms with an analytical tool. Once we both understand that tool then we can go back and apply it to role-play examples. Anything else is fruitless. If you have absolutely no sense of preliterate myth or bricolage at all, say so. We need a starting place even if the very, very beginning is it.
    Beyond that, I agree that it would help us to "go back to basics", but I feel like I'm trying to do that, and I'm not sure how to do it better. For instance, I can't tell you "how myth functions and is created", because I'm still not entirely on board with that analogy [...]
    Don't worry about myth as analogy right now. Don't worry about how it applies (or doesn't). We can and will come to that point later, but until we both have a functional, mutual understanding of myth/bricolage we cannot discuss whether employing said understanding as an analytic tool WRT roleplay is useful or not.

    I know you find Chris' writings dense (how do you think I feel who's had no training in this field at all?!) but it is the cornerstone of my thesis. Let us both read the same source material and let it stand as our common ground. While considering my reply here I reread his first two posts (for the umpteenth time!) in Bricolage APPLIED (finally!). Every reading has increased my understanding tremendously.

    Best,

    Jay
  • I’ll see if I can set aside some time for that. To be honest, I’m pretty skeptical about this approach to the conversation, and if this is what you think is best, I may simply drop this line of discussion altogether, sorry, Jay.

    I have some sense of what “bricolage” means in this context, I think, but may understanding of “myth” (again, in this context) is more or less nil.
  • edited August 6
    Hi Paul,
    I have some sense of what “bricolage” means in this context, I think, but may understanding of “myth” (again, in this context) is more or less nil.
    Perfect! You said exactly what I was looking for. This not only explains why we're not making any progress in our communications it also points me to where to begin. You've done the part I asked which is to give an assessment of your knowledge on the topic. It's all good.

    Hang tight, I'll do the best that I can to explain what I can. I'm a little dismayed that at your own admission of non-understanding/lack of a specific knowledge that you would render a judgment as to something's (myth) utility. You've always been very eager to apply yourself to so many topics that I'm not understanding your reluctance to engage with this. The irony is that myth/bricolage itself is fairly easy to understand, only becoming "difficult" in its particulars - I.e. disentangling the mythic corpus of a whole region that has had millenia to mature and grow. We're NOT interested in the mythic corpus of an entire region (that's hard and irrelevant to the purposes of this discussion) but rather how it works which is fairly easy to understand. I did it!

    Don't give up on me now!

    I'll start formulating a post right away!

    Best,

    Jay
  • Okay! That’s heartening.

    And, actually, I was stuck on a bus for quite a long time today, so I managed to reread quite a bit of the Lehrich post you linked to, as well.

    I’ll follow your lead for a bit! Cheers.
  • edited July 30
    I majored in anthropology for the one year I went to college, but must admit that even despite the word "myth" I was reading the word "bricolage" in a visual arts sense, rather than Lévi-Strauss' sense.

    In the examples given in Lehrich's post, it seems that a Tarot deck is being used, and the technique is then applied to interpreting the card's meaning. From whence does the original fact of the card come into play? Is it drawn randomly at a dramatic moment (thus tying us back to our parent thread)? Or is it more like a FATE "Aspect," part of a character's description from the outset? In short: When and how are new cards drawn into play?

    I'm also aware that you haven't said your own game uses the deck, so if not... from whence comes the initial manifestation of a particular "brick"?

  • I'd really really like to see an example of play. I think that would probably explain everything a lot better than reams of academic discussion.

  • Hi Tod,
    I'd really really like to see an example of play. I think that would probably explain everything a lot better than reams of academic discussion.
    I understand your interests and I'm really not trying to be obtuse. I have posted many examples of play throughout my postings here and at the Forge. Since there is no easy way to search for AP posts here I will link you to a post that @Jeph made that in the OP has a bunch of links pointing to my AP threads from years ago at the Forge. I hope it helps.

    The Spicy Dice Roll: salvaging something coherent

    Best,

    Jay
  • (Jay, just for your curiosity:

    I got through those opening posts by Lehrich - it's probably the third or fourth time I read them, over the years - for what it's worth. There's some interesting stuff there; and it's fresher in my mind now, although I actually found your description of the playstyle in this thread much more useful and cogent.)
  • edited August 6
    Hi Paul,

    This is my promised effort to explain myth/bricolage hopefully with an eye towards role-playing. Bear in mind that I am no trained expert and for the most part have read the same source material in posts and threads. I've had a some additional private help. Also note this will draw heavily from the Bricolage APPLIED thread. Finally be aware that these posts will drift from myth to myth applied to roleplay - So here we go...

    On a fundamental level myth is "a way of thinking". Myth operates in a way that is very much in contrast to Western Engineering thinking with its heavy reliance of abstractions to think about abstractions/idea. Myth also thinks in abstractions but by means of concrete objects. By "concrete" we mean physical object of the world (e.g., a bear or the sun) or physically observable events the world (e.g., childbirth or rainfall).

    So we have two very different processes by which to engage is abstract thought - Western Engineering Abstract thought and mythic thought.

    To demonstrate how mythic thought functions Levi-Strauss employed the analogy of Bricolage. In the hobby you build complicated and beautiful things using only what is readily available. When deciding to add an object one looks over the totality of their entire collection of existing objects and decides which will serve best. Whatever existing parts you do decide to use can be altered (bent, folded, twisted, etc.) but once an object is altered that alteration can never be undone. These objects have intrinsic qualities some of which you want for your project and some of which you don't but in latter case you cannot get rid of them. That is an essential part of the process of bricolage. If one of these intrinsic qualities becomes a problem you can't just remove the offending object but rather you must add some corrective measure. Bricolage is an additive process.

    Levi-Strauss contrasts this with normal Abstract Engineer Thinking. Such thinking analyzes a problem, figures out the desired effect and then makes an element for the machine from the ground up that does this one single function and only this function efficiently. This specifically constructed object ideally has no irrelevant properties and is "perfectly" tuned to do exactly the desired effect and no more.

    Suppose we want a machine to heat something and we want it to be lightweight. If the bricoleur only has an iron readily available in his "shed of objects" then he has to compensate for its heavy weight by adding something else to the machine to deal with the "unwanted" weight. The engineer just designs a lightweight heating element.

    A myth is the machine. It is the result of the process. As I noted above, in myth "concrete" objects are things or events in nature. Now consider that role-playing is a process. See the a parallel here? Myth is akin to a machine that does something and roleplay is a process that does something. Here's our first link.

    Now consider this parallel. Everything outside of Social Contract and CA is a "concrete" thing. A Technique might be likened to an iron: it can be used in various way, in various contexts, to do a range of things, but it cannot be used at all times to do absolutely anything at all. Any specific mechanic (like a to hit mechanic) follows the same strictures - it does something, it is applicable in a range of ways and situations and yet it cannot do everything nor be applied always. We have our next link between myth/bricolage and role-play. We can include such obvious objects as Setting and Character as well. We've established that the elements of a RPG are analogous to the "concrete" objects of the physical world as used in myth. We're not done yet, we're just starting to establish how the elements of a RPG map to myth.

    Up thread, Paul, you gave an excellent example of a situation (not an in game Situation of Character and Setting) where bricolage was employed to figure how to resolve a mechanics problem. The game didn't have a specific tool to deal with emotional violence. So the player looked into their bricoleur's shed (the total game system) of things to find something useful/appropriate. You took a rule for physical combat (a form of violence), altered it a bit and applied it to the particular Situation of emotional violence. The physical combat system has now changed, just a little bit. Everytime this mechanic is used to resolve physical combat in the future, it is a specific application that we have retained, of what is now a larger and slightly differently constructed mechanism (which can now also handle emotional violence).

    But consider the following, and this is important. You could have stopped play entirely to construct a new mechanic from the ground up (engineered a solution) but instead chose to bricole, in short order, a workable solution from an existing "concrete" object (the existing combat mechanic). Why? Because in the middle of play, as opposed to design, we find that engineering a brand new mechanic from top to bottom to be in practice a pain in the butt. In design we may find it aesthetically troublesome because it seems more elegant to have one mechanic covering many different situations than to have an overwhelming multitude different rules. We also run into the issue that while stepping out of play to engineer a new mechanic we have abstracted a step up and away from play. The problem is that during this engineering process we have been distracted from what was the point of this effort, which was to figure out what happens when the PC steps on the girl's glasses. IOW we've stopped engaging the concrete items of the SIS directly and have abstracted upwards to where we are now talking about an idea (a mechanic) that doesn't exist as a "concrete" object within the SIS. We've completely switched form mythic thinking of the "concrete" to engineering thinking of the abstract.

    Make note of the bolded words "practice" and "aesthetics" used above as they will come back later in important ways.

    Now we get the part of myth that is most difficult to parse. While I have been writing so far about "concrete" thinking I haven't touched on the relations of those "concrete" things which are called "structures". A "structure" is essentially two things. First it is a pre-made machine (using the bricolage analogy from earlier) already pretty well tuned and running smoothly. We can take this "structure" and add it to any other machine and know it will run in particular ways. Second, and this is the hard part, it is the abstract formulation entailed by the machine. This is the part of myth that deals with "meanings".

    Take a step back from the actual bricoled machine and look at it from the POV of an engineer. For the engineer that iron we employed to generate heat is an iron, but from the perspective of the machine (this perspective from inside the machine is where myth functions) in which it was placed is really a meaning: it means "local heat, heavy, etc." From the perspective of the machine it isn't an "iron". The structure of the "iron" put this way is (Local Heat)&(Heavy). When we look consider the totality of the big elaborate machine, we'll see a long list of such meanings intersecting. We'll also note some apparently contradictory meanings: because we wanted the heating thing to be light, we have both Iron (Local Heat)&(Heavy) and Helium Balloon (Really Big)&(Delicate)&(Negative-Heavy). In this machine Heavy and Negative-Heavy cancel out so that in the end we get a weight that is small! We've got our "lightweight local heat" but we've also got "Really Big and Delicate" that we might have to deal with in the future.

    Part 1 of 2
  • Part 2 of 2

    Any "structure" like this is a terrible mess if it takes into account every single potential meaning because every thing we use has a enormous raft of potential meanings, i.e. it is structured densely. This isn't true with engineering, because you design thing to have one meaning and little else, but in bricolage you're stuck with the vast entailments of actual things as they are. In addition to structure being a quality of the machine, it is also an aesthetic constraint on what the machine ought to look like.

    Now to we come back to Creative Agenda which is easiest to understand as a "structure". In this formulation we now see Creative Agenda as a kind of "aesthetic constraint structure." Its says that of nearly limitless types of games we could play with our mechanics and characters, etc., we only want a limited set of them. So every time we dig into out shed of System of whatever to get something, we choose not only what could work but what works well under these constraints.

    This means that we're thinking CA no matter what we're doing. On the other hand Social Contract constrains how we think about what is and isn't in the shed of things to play with, but without calling itself attention to itself as much as possible. It's like the "don't think of an elephant" exercise. The very mention of the "elephant" draws attention to itself and it becomes part of what we were trying to avoid. Like saying we're not going to have Environmental issues in the game draws attention to the idea of Environmental issues and makes it a point of debate.

    OK - back to CA. When we look in our range of mechanics and so on, seeking to accomplish a given purpose with violating CA we're thinking theoretically. But this not the experience of real play. We just do it and we do it oddly well. Partly this is because we're clever but also we have a lot of practice at doing this stuff. Rather than asking the question, "Will this work without violating CA?" which can give us a negative answer gumming up play we ask a different question.

    We ask, "Is the structure of this thing analogous to the structure of (part of) my CA? We also ask, "Is the structure of this thing analogous to the structure of (part of) my Social Contract?" We can answer that question immediately because we got that thing into the game in the first place was by understanding it as a structure, as a range of possibilities rather than an iron. We just compare, "structure A, structure B: are they close?" It's like saying, "this is green, that's green, they're both green." For the same reasons we see that both are green, or both are houses, or both are Dunedain, or both are mechanics, we can see whether or not any of the above will violate CA without ever posing the question directly.

    That means there are no differences in kind between Social Contract, CA and those things that lie under them. All of these are things and they are also structures of relations. This means that all of the elements that we describe in role-play are actually in play all the time when they are treated as structures of relations/meanings and not at abstracted objects. We inject meaning in play through the manipulation of "things" which, being structures (= meaning) as well, creates this vast, complex, meaningful and ever growing myth/machine/game experience.

    Going back to the improv jazz example stopping play to compose is the same as leaving the perspective of the machine with its "meanings" and "structures" and abstracted out to look at the machine as and engineer. You've left the sonic creation process to talk about the sonic creation process. You might talk about the composition in terms of theory or write it down in the abstractions of staffs and notes but in either case you're tailoring your future sonic creation through abstraction and editing not through structure and inalterable adding. Rather than stay with sonic creation, which is the point of playing improv jazz, you've stopping playing altogether to engineer a solution. The problem is that you've stopped the sonic creation to do so. You've stopped bricoling (playing improv jazz) and for short while have entered into the engineering process of composition leaving the sonic production process behind and doesn't that defeat the process of "impov" jazz? Always stay in the sonic production process and always stay within the SIS production process in role-play. It is for these reasons that I consider deterministic resolution mechanics outside of Semiotic Jazz play as they require the players to leave the "machine's POV" and abstract upwards where we leave play and talk about play.

    I don't know if this helps or not, but it's the best I can offer right now.

    Best,

    Jay
  • That's very interesting, Jay. It's a really good restatement of Lehrich's essay, and (mostly) quite clear.

    Rereading Lehrich's stuff, and now your version of it here, has been really thought-provoking, and I definitely have a better handle on this stuff.

    However (and don't chop off my head for this!), I'm not sure how to go back to our discussion from theory-land.

    I don't see how "hey, let's use this mechanic for emotional violence" is supposedly not mythic play-like, but "add 3 skill checks to your sheet", or "you kissed the witch; you gain terrible insight and level up to level 10" is (?).

    I can see how you might make the argument that the *mindset* behind the decision is different, but then we're back to my earlier observation that it must depend a lot on familiarity and flow (e.g. a group using the same System for a long period of time starts to internalize it and use it fluidly, without much thought, but a group trying something new is going to be slower and move in fits and starts from time to time). I also have no idea how we can define or identify such a mindset (I certainly wouldn't presume to know about an improvising musician - although it seems that every musician uses a mixture of those mindsets/processes in the moment of improvisation, and it's almost always a mix).
  • edited August 6
    I like your description of bricolage (hacking, DIY). Is it a total change of paradigm or "just" a different balance of rules (engineering) and rulings (on the spot) ? I think the balance is significant enough that the experience is very different, specially for the shall I say conservative ? mainstream ? crowd of hobbyists. And it suits one of my game needs : that we do it rather than talk about doing it. However in my opinion it doesn't change the nature of rules (and facts) in a game. Precisely, I see no relation - other than analogical - with mythology. Which only means I don't see it, not that it doesn't exist.
  • I think I too was thinking of something more structural, more... worldbuildy.

  • edited August 6
    Maybe like this : meaning is always decided first by what is said and it then flows to the game state, seldom the other way. So players are conscious they may not know the real reason of things, only that it turned out this way. Their understanding is mythic truth rather than science, lacking feedback from reality. (if you read this with a prejudice against myth or in favor of science, then now you know you are prejudiced and just got a new assignment on myth studies)
    This would make Bricolage playstyle a part of a wider set of mythic (blissfully opaque ?) games.
  • Hi Paul,
    However (and don't chop off my head for this!), I'm not sure how to go back to our discussion from theory-land.
    There is only a very small step from theory-land to real world application and that is called "practice". Not in repetition meaning but in the usage meaning. The practice of theory is theory put directly into use. Chris' article was the practice of theory as applied to the hobby of role-play as a whole. He started with pure theory and then applied it to role-play by giving explicit examples of how the theory worked in practicum.

    We're almost to the point of practical application (practice) but I need you to verify that you understand these key points.

    Do you understand the part about how "things" work differently from the point of view of inside the machine (myth) as opposed to outside the machine (objectivity)? From the POV of outside the machine (the engineer's objective perspective) the "thing" is an iron. From the POV of inside the machine (the myth) the "thing" means (Local Heat)&(Heavy)&(Handle)&(Long Power Cord)&(Steam)&(Flat Bottom), etc.?

    This is absolutely central to the whole thesis. If you don't understand this distinction then we can't go forward. The mode of play I'm talking about prioritizes functioning within the machine so when an a "thing" is referenced we're not talking about it objectively as fact but rather as a dense structure of meanings.

    Let me quote from the Hobbit as an example of what gaining a "level" means within the myth...
    The spider lay dead beside him, and his sword-blade was stained black.
    Somehow the killing of the giant spider, all alone by himself in the dark without the help of the wizard of the dwarves or of anyone else, made a great difference to Mr. Baggins.
    He felt a different person, and much fiercer and bolder in spite of an empty stomach, as he wiped his sword on the grass and put it back into its sheath.
    So, in your example if the DM says, "you kissed the witch; you gain terrible insight and level up to level 10" does hearing "level 10" equate to mechanical changes on your sheet or do you immediately think of what it means in game? If the former you're still thinking objectively like an engineer separate and removed from the SIS but if the later then your thinking mythically within the meaning structures of the SIS.

    Second - do you understand that mythic play is immediate, in the present and thus strictly additive and cannot be edited?

    Third - do you understand how "structures" work? That they are both a quality of the myth and an aesthetic constraint of how the myth should look like? This means that the out of the vast multitudes of meanings that a "thing" can have we limit ourselves to the ones we find useful/aesthetically pleasing. These constraints are the elements of the source material that we find appealing and want to engage with. IOW a myth is made up of structures (meanings as associated with "concrete" things) and the directions a myth grows is constrained/informed/guided by structures.

    Understanding these three topics are critical for further discussion. From here we can then apply theory to practice.
    ...must depend a lot on familiarity and flow (e.g. a group using the same System for a long period of time starts to internalize it and use it fluidly, without much thought, but a group trying something new is going to be slower and move in fits and starts from time to time).
    Yes and no. Yes if the group is pre-programmed in western engineering thinking and is groping blindly towards this style of play. No if you state your goals and go about it actively - just read @Jeph's account. Just a couple of games in and his game was going like gangbusters. His players took to it like a fish to water.

    Best,

    Jay
  • Hi Tod,
    I think I too was thinking of something more structural, more... worldbuildy.
    Could you elaborate on this a little more please. I'm not quite sure what you're getting at but I'd like to answer.

    Best,

    Jay

  • Jay,

    Very well, I'll trust you and follow along. As usual, I find this difficult to engage with when it's purely theoretical, so bear with me. You ask me if you understand as we go along, and I'm never sure what to say. I understand all the words you're saying, but can't apply it to the practice of roleplaying, which, usually, to me, is a sign that it's not really being understood at all.

    That said, here we go!

    I believe there are three points you wanted me to confirm or address:

    1. The first is the idea that there two different perspectives. One is the "Western/engineering" mindset, which is interested in directed purpose and objectivity. You're calling it "outside the machine". It's an analytical and empirical perspective. The second is the "mythic" perspective, from "inside the machine", and it deals, rather, with meaning, influence, qualities, and relationships.

    (I won't comment on the example; you said you want to hold off on practical applications for now.)

    2.

    Second - do you understand that mythic play is immediate, in the present and thus strictly additive and cannot be edited?
    Hmmm. If I had to pick one, I'd say "no". Sure, I understand that mythic play can be all those things, but I have no idea why it *must* be, and, in practice, I think every group will violate that on a regular basis. So, perhaps I agree in theory, but not in practice.

    Either that, or, taken more loosely, this describes all of roleplaying, anyway. So, I'm not sure what to say!

    However, I can simply accept it as you have said it: "Sure, let's use that as part of our definition." That's no problem.

    3.

    Third - do you understand how "structures" work? That they are both a quality of the myth and an aesthetic constraint of how the myth should look like? [...] IOW a myth is made up of structures (meanings as associated with "concrete" things) and the directions a myth grows is constrained/informed/guided by structures.
    This is extremely nebulous to me. I follow what you've written here, but I couldn't apply it to anything concrete.

    I'll say "yes". Some features of the myth act both as structures or material for bricolage, and, additionally, carry meaning and constrain or guide how the myth may be developed.

    Close enough?
  • edited August 7
    Jay, what you're characterizing as "western engineering thinking" just sounds like Gamism to me. I reckon there are very few here who still play that way.

    If polled, I'd wager the majority of us here use the numbers as merely guides or limits to our imagined fiction, which is really the level we're operating on, and most of us who are GMs would probably say they strive to remain in mythic space to the greatest extent possible (given that the logic of the numbers and the system serve as both guides and limits to that imagined potential).

    I'd even say these values are embodied strongly in two of the "principles" of the OSR as defined by Matt Finch (designer of the 0e retro-clone "Swords and Wizardry") namely "Rulings, Not Rules" and "Player Skill, not Character Abilities." Both of these are advisements to veer away from quanta and lean into the logic of the fiction.

  • (Interesting! That's not how I'm reading Jay at all, although I can see why you might get that impression from, for example, the hobbit example. Let's see what he says!)
  • edited August 7
    Hi Tod,
    Jay, what you're characterizing as "western engineering thinking" just sounds like Gamism to me.
    Actually, no. Narrativism is just as founded in "western engineering thinking" (that is using abstractions to guide play) as Gamism. Anytime a game has an abstraction guiding play, like Address of Challenge or Address of Premise, that is, any game that is designed around abstractions or functions at the abstract level (at a remove from directly acting on the SIS by abstracting up and away to talk about what should be done player to player) it is a "western engineering" play priority.

    Best,

    Jay
  • edited August 7
    Ok, I'll buy that. So now the Mythic playstyle starts to sound like its guiding principles or goals are Immediate Simulationism and Deep Immersion, in which non-diegetic mechanics are deliberately obscured or minimized so as to facilitate these states. Note that in this case when I say "Simulationism" I am speaking of simulating the subjective/psychic experience of Being in the gameworld, as opposed to mechanical simulations of physics, etc.

    Phenomenological Simulationism.

    Am I getting closer?

  • edited August 11
    Hi Paul,

    I really appreciate you making a go of sticking with me through the theory part.
    I understand all the words you're saying, but can't apply it to the practice of roleplaying, which, usually, to me, is a sign that it's not really being understood at all.
    That said, here we go!

    I believe there are three points you wanted me to confirm or address:
    1. The first is the idea that there two different perspectives. One is the "Western/engineering" mindset, which is interested in directed purpose and objectivity. You're calling it "outside the machine". It's an analytical and empirical perspective. The second is the "mythic" perspective, from "inside the machine", and it deals, rather, with meaning, influence, qualities, and relationships.
    As long as we understand that by relationships we're not limiting ourselves to interpersonal relationships. We're talking about how everything relates to everyone other thing and ultimately (critically) to us as players.
    2.

    Second - do you understand that mythic play is immediate, in the present and thus strictly additive and cannot be edited?
    Hmmm. If I had to pick one, I'd say "no". Sure, I understand that mythic play can be all those things, but I have no idea why it *must* be, and, in practice, I think every group will violate that on a regular basis. So, perhaps I agree in theory, but not in practice.
    Mythic role-play is to words as improv jazz is to music. The soloist plays in the moment and there is no "editing" of what has been sonicly produced. It is serial in nature and plays through time. Once having been played that creative sonic event cannot be altered. It is music no more but a memory. Contrast this composed sheet music that can be written and edited (adding and removing notes) many times before it reaches it complete and final form. The sheet music can be played and replayed and interpreted in many different ways but the completed and printed sheet music itself is not changed. You can make notations on the sheet music, play it backwards, play just a portion of it and just that portion or what have you but the printed sheet music is still the printed sheet music.

    So it is with mythic role-play, that which is spoken cannot be unspoken. It can be amended (added to) but not removed. Like the bricolage art form or as with improv jazz this additive/non editing mode of play is definitional. If you one is constantly editing their play then why bother with CA in the first place? In baseball once the batter swings he cannot unswing the bat. In basketball once the player shoots he cannot unshoot the ball. Now rules might exist and be called into effect that negate the effect of those actions (edit) but in order to do so play stops while that decision is being made.

    Sure, as you say this editing process can happen even in mythic play, but as a PRIORITY OF PLAY this editing/negotiating/operating on the abstract level is avoided as much as humanly possible.
    Either that, or, taken more loosely, this describes all of roleplaying, anyway. So, I'm not sure what to say!
    In Gamist play, when Challenge is being addressed, this is mostly done at the abstract level with discussing which Task Resolution mechanics apply and in the negotiation of tactics. In Narrativist play, when Premise is being addressed, this too is mostly done at the abstract level when negotiating fallout when employing Fortune in the Middle, negotiating scenes and how to move the elements of play are to be moved around so that the Premise Question is pushed front and center again and again. Deciding how many dice to bid is an abstracted process that is part of a negotiation (editing) process. All the above are a vital and necessary part of the these priority of play process (Creative Agendas). To ask why mythic play *must* be the way it is, is to ask why Gamism or Narrativism is the way it is.

    The real question is why you feel it is necessary to ask about such a fundamental part of mythic play when not asking similar questions about Gamist and Narrativist Creative Agendas. In myth this additive imperative gives the map of reality its sense of permanence. Also since myth is an oral tradition what is said cannot be unsaid, only amended. So it is with this CA. This imperative additive process is a strong part of what gives this mode of play its power and vitality. Of course this additive/non-editing imperative can be breached but to do so it rob this mode of play its power. Just like refusing to Address Premise robs Narrativist play its power.
    Third - do you understand how "structures" work? That they are both a quality of the myth and an aesthetic constraint of how the myth should look like? [...] IOW a myth is made up of structures (meanings as associated with "concrete" things) and the directions a myth grows is constrained/informed/guided by structures.
    This is extremely nebulous to me. I follow what you've written here, but I couldn't apply it to anything concrete.

    I'll say "yes". Some features of the myth act both as structures or material for bricolage, and, additionally, carry meaning and constrain or guide how the myth may be developed.

    Close enough?
    Close enough! A game set in Middle Earth is going to play and feel different than one set in the Star Wars universe. This has nothing to do with mechanics and everything to do with the meaning structures contained within the source materials. The types of events that will crop up will also be flavored and directed by the aesthetic constraints of the "things" in the source material. The source material that we will be using for the bricolage process will affect what the myth will look like (or in terms of an RPG how the game will be played and how it will be experienced). FREX - an Elven sword will exist and act very differently from that of a Light Sabre in a Star Wars sourced game. Each will mean something different even within their respective worlds. The former will glow in the presence of Orcs representing some of how elven magic works and the Elves relationship to said Orcs while a light Sabre represents such meanings as Jedi, Sith Lords, a high tech world and the Force. See? It's not that they are both "swords" but rather what they mean/represent within the cultural/structural framework.

    I believe we have established the common framework with which we can now analyze such play!

    Best,

    Jay
  • Hi Tod,
    Ok, I'll buy that. So now the Mythic playstyle starts to sound like its guiding principles or goals are Immediate Simulationism and Deep Immersion, in which non-diegetic mechanics are deliberately obscured or minimized so as to facilitate these states. Note that in this case when I say "Simulationism" I am speaking of simulating the subjective/psychic experience of Being in the gameworld, as opposed to mechanical simulations of physics, etc.

    Phenomenological Simulationism.

    Am I getting closer?
    In short, pretty much dead on.

    Best,

    Jay
  • I’m following carefully with great interest, so don’t take this as sniping at isolated points, because I feel this is interesting: isn’t dice rolling (usually regarded in puristi of simulationism as something of a necessary evil) a key element of your experience of play, your myth?

    Wouldn’t your play, in fact, be poorer, as an experience for the actual people around the table if instead of going to the dice you immersed enough to defer those decisions to the SIS completely?

    As far as I can follow your and Chris’s explanations of this, it seems to me that “dice rolling” is as much a concrete thing with it’s place and meaning in the structure as “Dunedain” or “lightsaber”.
  • edited August 8
    As far as I understand it, all of the things that look like traditional RPG mechanics in Jay & Cary's game are like that, from d20 rolls to damage and hit points and hit location to a magic sword's +1 bonus to experience checks to levels. They're bits and bobs that are meaningful mostly from the ways that they're used to communicate, & the connections + relationships established between them and other elements of Myth during play.
  • edited August 8
    Jay,

    Interesting. I worry (somewhat like the two other replies, above) that we're starting to conflate creative goals with Techniques here. There's an interesting parallel to some of your own reactions to Sandra's playstyle and approach! I wonder if you aren't looking at the WAY you play with your particular group and taking as that as the sum whole of "mythic play". (And that's a problematic proposition if we want to start talking about Creative Agenda.)

    It seems to me that, without changing ANY of the Techniques, rules, or procedures of play in your group (any of the System), you could have successful Gamist or Narrativist play. All you need is to engage the game with different creative priorities - for the former, it's the players who would need to approach the game in a slightly different light, and for the latter it might be more the GM, but ultimately it's everyone who needs to be onboard, of course.

    It seems to me that the processes of play in your group aren't terribly different from "freeform roleplaying with a strong, traditional GM figure" (aside from certain mechanics being used as cues of meaning, signification, and communication), and that's certainly something that can enable a variety of Creative Agendas.

    This is one of the reasons I asked you about what happens, in your opinion, when Cary adds deterministic boundaries to dice rolls ("ok, you have to roll a 20!"); that's sort of an example of the "exception that proves the rule" of your System.

    As another example, you agree with Tod's description of "phenomenological Simulationism" (which makes sense to me, too!). However, Tod's description is purely about methods and not goals (unless "immersion" is the goal, and we both know how slippery that fish is!).

    So, how do we figure out where you're talking about Technical Agenda, and where it's a question of the larger creative aims of the game itself?

    Secondly, I'm afraid I still don't totally understand the distinctions you're drawing between "composed" and "improvised" styles. In the analogies you're using, it makes complete sense - like you say, many compositions can be written down, played backwards, and so forth. I struggle to understand what this might look like in a gaming context, though - outside of the analogy. After all, most gaming can't be "written down, played backwards, and so forth". Can I take a session of My Life with Master, and "[write and edit it] (adding and removing notes) many times before it reaches it complete and final form"? What would that even mean?
    "The sheet music can be played and replayed and interpreted in many different ways but the completed and printed sheet music itself is not changed. You can make notations on the sheet music, play it backwards, play just a portion of it and just that portion or what have you but the printed sheet music is still the printed sheet music."
    I know exactly what you mean in regards to written music. I have no idea what that looks like in a gaming context, however! Most every roleplaying activity takes place in a spontaneous, improvised, and additive manner. No one plays D&D and says, "Hey, let's go back to when we were at the entrance of the dungeon, two hours ago, and our henchman got stuck in the blade trap. Let's replay that moment, but see if he can't escape it this time. Also, my damage rolls sucked in the fight that followed; let's reroll those." Not in normal play, anyway; it would be a strange kind of digression from how the game is normally played.

    If you feel I've missed some of your points or observations in your previous message, let me know; I can respond to it in a point-by-point fashion. But these are the two main points I'm not clear on, and I think the other two replies show that I'm not alone.


  • edited August 8
    Hi Tod,

    I've been thinking on what you posted specifically non-diegetic mechanics for a looooooong while and what role they might play in such a "Simulationism" mode of play.
    [...] So now the Mythic playstyle starts to sound like its guiding principles or goals are Immediate Simulationism and Deep Immersion, in which non-diegetic mechanics are deliberately obscured or minimized so as to facilitate these states. Note that in this case when I say "Simulationism" I am speaking of simulating the subjective/psychic experience of Being in the gameworld, as opposed to mechanical simulations of physics, etc.
    Given that this mode of play prioritizes the experiential aspect of Being in the gameworld, then what role do mechanics play if any? As you mentioned above minimizing non-diegetic mechanics is very important. We want to stay in the diegesis/SIS as much as functionally possible.

    As @shimrod rightly pointed out -
    Wouldn’t your play, in fact, be poorer, as an experience for the actual people around the table if instead of going to the dice you immersed enough to defer those decisions to the SIS completely?
    I agree that such play would be poorer as die rolling handled in the proper fashion can add tremendous energy. For the reasons shimrod indicated. The dice are not part of an abstracted engineered mechanics but are instead the embodiment of the meaning of "fate" contained within the SIS. This means that dice cannot be used as part of a deterministic mechanic but are rather structures of meaning that have grown accumulated over time. In order for this "structure" to grow in meaning its effects cannot be constrained to specific unchanging mechanic outputs. In time "20's" will come to mean that narrow escape with your life when you jumped the chasm, the Hail Mary shot that killed that troll in one shot when you were trapped in the dungeon, the time when you were dying that you held on just a little bit longer allowing your companions to escape, the discovery of a magical sword while walking on a path in the woods, the dodging of blow that would have ended your life, the time when you were at rock bottom in your life and just for a moment you saw a flash of light from the utmost West of Aman, etc. We don't know for sure what we're rolling for but that "20" can mean something very good is going to happen - whatever it is. The converse can be said for the dread of "1's" and all the terrible meanings associated with that number.

    Fate. ...and it rests in your hands.

    The die isn't part of a mechanic it's the physical manifestation of the unknown. We're not leaving the SIS to resolve its meaning we look deeper into the SIS to see what it means.

    So the question becomes how do we use this tool to the utmost extent to make play as meaningful as possible? If it isn't a deterministic mechanic then what is it? It is, as @Jeph put it, a form of communication. So how do we make this communication process both exciting and meaningful? That's the part I'm trying to sort out. How do we as GMs employ this tool (the die) to the greatest effect in support of @AsIf's Phenomenological Simulationism?

    I believe the rejection of deterministic mechanics is fundamental. But that's just a negative. How do we in build something that is so loaded with potential meaning that we await the final resting of the die with bated breath? One way is to make the die reflection of the world not something non-diegetic.

    Best,

    Jay
  • edited August 8
    I'm totally with you now. And this is something I think a lot of GMs do reflexively, without giving it a name, at those times when there's no immediate mechanic that jumps to mind, if the playstyle/session/setting/group is fluxxy enough.

    In regards to my earlier statement about "worldbuildy," I'll withdraw it, since it had more to do with my musings after reading the Forge posts than what you're talking about here.

    As to your final question, my first thought is adding vectors of meaning to certain dice or roll outcomes, which affect or limit the GM's mythic realtime interpretation of "what happens next."

    A simple example since I'm getting ready to leave the house... the GM might roll 1d20 and 1d6; the d20 represents a diegetic/game-ontological event (as usual) and the d6 puts an interpretive "spin" on it. Maybe fictional positioning or corresponding traits can apply a mod. Perhaps rolling the same number on both dice yields a "wild event" or interruption, etc. In other words, without having a particular outcome in mind beforehand, the GM should be able - by using a very small set of easily-internalized non-diegetic guidelines - to create "fate" with a single roll. This "fate" is not determined by the roll so much as prompted and interpreted, in holding with the current state of the Myth.

  • How do we in build something that is so loaded with potential meaning that we await the final resting of the die with bated breath? One way is to make the die reflection of the world not something non-diegetic.
    It seems to me that it's quite the opposite, the meaning of the die is largely non-diegetic: the excitement isn't just in seeing what happens in the diegesis, it's very much also in the actual act of rolling, in the real world; the recollection, by the player, in the real world, of all those exciting 1 and 20 moments over the years...
  • Right! This conversation is starting to get interesting, since, perhaps because of Jay’s particularly lucid explanations here, we finally sound like we all understand what we’re talking about.

    The question becomes whether these details are fundamental to this style of play or whether they are just technical particularities of this group. From what I’ve seen, the group doesn’t shift a bit from deterministic to non-deterministic mechanics, and that doesn’t seem to hurt the game (or, at least, doesn’t hurt it very much).

    It seems to me that, so long as the qualities and meanings of the myth are maintained and held as of highest importance/primacy, we can use any mechanics we like.

    In a “spicy dice” roll, we roll a die and then interpret its results in the spirit of the myth. The die roll is given expression in the myth: “This is what it means to roll a 20 here.”

    On the other hand, when we apply skill checks, character level gain, or rolls with “set” numbers (“you can try, but only if you roll a 20”), we look at the qualities of the myth and choose to reflect those via the mechanics: “Since this situation is like that one, then rolling a 20 here feels exactly right to kill the troll” / “this development feels like a change to the character; let’s express that by leveling them up”.
  • Hi @shimrod,
    How do we in build something that is so loaded with potential meaning that we await the final resting of the die with bated breath? One way is to make the die reflection of the world not something non-diegetic.
    It seems to me that it's quite the opposite, the meaning of the die is largely non-diegetic: the excitement isn't just in seeing what happens in the diegesis, it's very much also in the actual act of rolling, in the real world; the recollection, by the player, in the real world, of all those exciting 1 and 20 moments over the years...
    Actually, no. If we go back and look at the analysis provided in Bricolage APPLIED we see that entirety of the act (ritual) of roleplay is myth. Social Contract all the way down to Ephemera which Chris posited are "structures" we impose upon the act of role-play so that we can abstract the process and talk about it, but are not intrinsic to process itself. IOW everything we do at the table (within the ritual of play) is all part of the mythic corpus. So rolling a die is a ritual laden with meaning every bit as much as the ritual of couvade. While couvade can not really prove paternity the acting out of the ritual is as good as truth because the tribal members treat the act as such because it is part of the mythic corpus.
    As far as I can follow your and Chris’s explanations of this, it seems to me that “dice rolling” is as much a concrete thing with it’s place and meaning in the structure as “Dunedain” or “lightsaber”.
    Absolutely! Since everything that happens at the table in mythic play (as part of the Ritual of "role-play" all the way from Social Contract to Ephemera) is part of the myth then is so the die roll itself. As long as it treated as a "structure" with many potential meanings and not an abstraction. It is ritual oracle where we are never sure what the oracle will indicate.
    It is a much a part of the ritual of role-play as playing our character since they are both "structures" within the mythic corpus.
    It seems to me that it's quite the opposite, the meaning of the die is largely non-diegetic: the excitement isn't just in seeing what happens in the diegesis, it's very much also in the actual act of rolling, in the real world; the recollection, by the player, in the real world, of all those exciting 1 and 20 moments over the years...
    Again, for the reasons stated above the totality of what happens during the ritual of role-play at the table is part of the myth. The die roll is not the abstract resolution mechanic is the ritual of consulting the oracle with all the possible interpretations of the past included. That a part of a die roll's excitement comes not from the moment but past play is a perfect example of how "things" accumulate meaning over time in myth. It is ritual.

    I should note that employing the term diegesis with regards to mythic play is a category error. There is no story or plot, there is myth. All that happens at the table in mythic play is part of the game as long as we are communicating in the "concrete" and not in the "abstract". Instead of using words like diegesis we should use words like ritual and myth. We break mythic CA when we start using abstractions (like resolution mechanics and negotiated fall out) and leaving mythic thinking behind. It's not the rolling of the die which is the problem it is whether the die roll is used as part of mythic thinking or part of an engineering solution.

    Best,

    Jay
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