[Helpfulness] What would you like to know (about Forgey Glossary stuffs)?

edited May 2007 in Story Games
What the title says.

===Rules for Participation in this thread===
1. I am taking a law school exam right now. I've spent sixteen weeks in this course, I'm paying through the nose for it, this is the only grade. I am under enormous pressure and my time is limited. But I want to help other people out. Please be courteous to me, because I am under a ton of stress right now.

1A. Because I am taking a law school exam, I won't be able to respond in any depth until 3 PM May 10, 2007. If you are impatient, please learn to relax.

1B. You had no way to know I was under stress until I told you. Likewise, you have no way of knowing if the other people you meet, in real life or on the Internet, are under stress. Please be nice to people in this thread. If you have negative things to say about another person, real or imagined take it somewhere else.


Okay: what do people want to know?
«13

Comments

  • Good luck on your test!

    What's that fourth creative agenda somebody mentioned offhand?
  • edited May 2007
    What is a good explanation for what Sim means these days, and why would someone say there are four and not three creative agendas?
  • The fourth Creative Agenda is Zilchplay. What happened is: as people were discussing GNS on the Forge, some people started to suggest that there were people playing games who didn't give a damn about Creative Agenda, really, they just wanted to make sure everyone has the same play goals. In other words, they have no Creative Agenda, so their agenda is Zilch. Zero.

    This was also combined with discussions of other, non-Creative Agendas, like Social Agendas ("I'm playing this game because I like hanging with my buddies!") or Technical Agendas ("I like games with lots of dice strategy!") Zilchplay is any kind of play where one of these other agendas is more important than a Creative Agenda, so players change from G to N to S based on what they think is appropriate, without settling on one particular Creative Agenda.

    At least, that is how I understand the term. I did not participate in the ZIlchplay discussions, but I do remember the point when Ron decided he was convinced Zilchplay was real play and not just people talking about theoretical play.

  • Yeah, Zilchplay is talking about the player who doesn't have a Creative Agenda of their own, because it's dwarfed by something else more important.

    I don't think of it as a creative agenda, because it really isn't, just the lack of one.

    I don't like to talk about it a lot, because I like to talk about Creative Agenda with respect to (wrt, from now on) the group, rather than wrt the individual players.

    I'm on hand to answer questions, as well, with permission from James.

    yrs--
    --Ben
  • edited May 2007
    Posted By: Jason MorningstarGood luck on your test!
    Thanks! Is it unethical that I'm blowing off my ethics exam?
    Posted By: Jason MorningstarWhat's that fourth creative agenda somebody mentioned offhand?
    The hell if I know! I'm taking a wild stab at it. Apparently in some Forge thread, Ron said that "Zilchplay" is its own agenda. I haven't read this thread, and the Forge keeps giving me error messages when I try to search. So I can't provide much enlightenment here on why he said that.
    Posted By: Provisional Forge Glossary
    ZILCHPLAY - Desiring characters to be active particpants in an imagined world, but also to do as little as possible to make that shared imagining happen. A type of Simulationism by default, because in the absence of a desire to actively pursue a Gamist or Narrativist agenda the only focus is on exploration. A controversial term, coined by Walt Freitag; see Zilchplay (split from Understanding: the "it").
    Keeping in mind that (a) I wasn't around when the term was coined, and (b) the Forge is presently unsearchable, I unpack this to mean a way of playing that really isn't about any particular reward. When you're doing zilchplay, you're basically noodling around without really thinking too hard about what you're doing, and not going too far out of your way to make the game itself fun or exciting for others.

    As an example: once upon a time, I ran this on-line campaign where everyone wanted to fight this evil villain. He was hard to beat, and also interesting thematically. But there was this while in the campaign where we all kinda slipped into this mode where, "Whadda you wanna do?" "I dunno, whadda you wanna do?". And we killed sessions like this. Dude wandered around and resolved a character sub-plot that (for me as a GM at least) wasn't very interesting. Some other guy put together a political alliance. But there was no in-game pressure or out-of-game excitement, at least on my part. I was, at that point, sort of running the game simply to run it. My reward--after a couple of months of this--had nothing to do with the stuff going on in the game, or even the activity of gaming per se. Looking back on it, I basically wanted to chill out for a few hours with my friends, jibber-jabber in a low-key way about science-fiction characters, and then get on with the rest of my day.

    And that's viable if that's what you wanna do. There's nothing wrong with it, as long as it's not pissing other people off.

    For whatever reason, Ron figured it was part of Sim sometime during 2004. Maybe he's changed his mind. Like I said, I don't have access to the original thread, nor to the thread where it apparently got promoted. But that's my understanding of what the term means (and I could be totally wrong.)

    If other people were there, and really know this stuff, please step in.
  • Kynn --

    It's difficult to talk about Simulationism "these days" because the GNS structure has been largely given up in favor of the much more general Creative Agenda structure, with Gamism, Narrativism, and Simulationism as core classifications of Creative Agenda.

    I'm happy to talk about Simulationism, but I need to be able to do so in a context where you understand that there may be contradictions, and those are part of the reason why the GNS structure isn't used a lot as a theory tool anymore.

    yrs--
    --Ben
  • edited May 2007
    Posted By: KynnWhat is a good explanation for what Sim means these days, and why would someone say there are four and not three creative agendas?
    I am completely unaware that Zilchplay (or anything else) was recognized as a Creative Agenda. To my knowledge, Gamism, Narrativism and Simulationism were it.

    Simulationism was a matter of great debate for years. Frankly, I think many people who have discussed it then and now still disagree about the term. For one, Simulationism isn't so much about Simulating a thing "realistically." Another way to describe it that caught on was "internally consistent." I.e. Space Physics in Star Wars aren't realistic, but are consistent in Star Wars "universe."

    My understanding of the term, confirmed with Ron in personal conversations, is that Simulationism is about celebrating and/or riffing on something. This celebratory exploration is the highest reward for a functional Simulationist group of players, the thing they find most rewarding as the game works through its reward cycles (rewards are many, but include things like XP awards, bonuses granted on the fly, etc.) This is what I understand The Right To Dream is about.

    So, if your group's all about the realism of a thing, then that's the thing you're celebrating. If it's the Star Trek Universe, then it's that. If it's post-apocalyptic hot rods, it's that. Frequently, but not always, it is a pre-existing thing. Say, Star Wars or steampunk stuff. But, sometimes it's also exploring some new thing -- like some kind of mashup setting that people get really jazzed about. It need not be a setting. It could be something else the group wants to celebrate, like a bad ass biker, or John Woo gun play, or whatever.

    I like this approach to Simulationism (that is, as I've described it here) and support it, because it recognizes Simulationism as it's own functional thing. It's not an absence of Gamism or Narrativism. It is it's own agenda. Many people rankled prior to that; they felt the theory insulted them as enjoy the lack of a thing. With this understanding of Simulationism, they could positively point to their thing and say "Yep, this is why I do this, and I'm cool with that and so is everyone else."
  • Thanks, guys. James, it looks like there's some folks here who've got your back, so go study!

    Anybody want to take a crack at explaining vanilla vs. pervy? Particularly if you can point out specific games or modes of play that tend to push one way or the other?
  • Posted By: Jason MorningstarAnybody want to take a crack at explaining vanilla vs. pervy?
    When in the sweet merciful fuck did those words become jargonized? Hands off my language!

    Are there examples of where they've been used in a sentence?
  • C'mon, Fred, let a man ask an honest question! They are all up in the provisional glossary related to points of contact. I know what they mean in everyday kinkdom, just not, you know, Forge kinkdom.
  • Vanilla and Pervy were about mechanical points of contact. Vanilla had few -- many things one did as a group system-wise to accomplish whatever it was they were after. Pervy, contrariwise, was about high points of contact -- even arcane manipulation of mechanics to achieve a thing.

    It wasn't exclusively about one Creative Agenda, really, though much discussion of these terms hinged on Narrativism (i.e. Vanilla Narrativism). Specifically, I recall some speculation that "gamers" were typically more into Pervy stuff, while people new to the hobby tended to respond much better to Vanilla.

    I would point to two Narrativism examples. These "happen" to be Narrativism, but I think it's perfectly acceptable to use these terms in other modes.

    So, Prime Time Adventures is my go-to Vanilla Narrativism example. I think Troll Babe would fit that bill, too.

    I'd use my own Nine Worlds as some pretty pervy Narrativism stuff. There are many points of contact there, as compared to Prime Time Adventures in particular.

    Hopefully, that answer your question, Jason.
  • Thanks Matt and Secret Whisperer!
  • Hey folks: in answering these questions, it might be a good idea to add some Actual Play examples from your own experience, if you know of any. Concrete is usually much better than abstract.
  • Jason,

    Vanilla means that there are less points of contact between the System (in Lumpley Principle terms) and the players when entering some imagined event into the fiction. Pervy is just the opposite, more points of contact. It's hard to say a system is Pervy or Vanilla without some reference point. It's like saying I'm a "big" person. Big compared to whom or what?

    However, you can make some generalizations that tend to hold true when judging where games have a relatively high number of points of contact or a low number. For example, Systems with lots of different specialized mechanics for different actions tend to be more Pervy than systems with a single mechanic that handles everything. Thus, D&D is more Pervy than say, Sorcerer or TSoY. (Forget Creative Agendas for the moment.)

    Also, games can be Pervy with respect to one facet of play and Vanilla in others. For example, Sorcerer is fairly Pervy in terms of dealing with Demons (Summoning, Binding, Punishing, etc) but Vanilla as can be when dealing with who has narration rights. But that's because Demons are pretty darn central to the game while who gets to narrate after a roll isn't.

    Anyway, I probably muddied the waters even more than they were before. If so, I'm sorry Jason.
  • I don't want to derail the thread, but it was my understanding that the idea of Zilchplay fell out of fashion towards the end of the theory-forum days. At least in personal conversations with Ron E., that was the impression I got (though I don't mean to speak for him). Rather, Zilchplay just represented really low intensity G, N, or S.
  • edited May 2007
    Posted By: timfireI don't want to derail the thread, but it was my understanding that the idea of Zilchplay fell out of fashion towards the end of the theory-forum days.
    So noted! I have no idea what anyone said about this because the Forge is currently unsearchable. Someone in the jargon thread indicated that Ron said that zilchplay could be a creative agenda. But that's double-hearsay by the time you hear it from me. I don't stand by the assertion; I'm just explaining what the term means.
  • Heya,

    Could you give me a good, dictionary definition of lasersharking and then both an Actual Play Report and published Game Design that demonstraits it?

    Peace,

    -Troy
  • Troy: Lasersharking isn't a thing that's necessarily done in play. It's not a big model theory term, so calling for an AP report is kinda awkward.

    Lasersharking is simply the thing where geeks slap a bunch of different genre elements on top of each other and call it "awesome!" Like, for instance, deadlands. Which isn't just a wild west game, it's a wild west game with magic! Six types of magic! Woo!

    In the context of the original discussion, it's about how this is a thing that geeks like to do that non-geek people ... don't really do, because they don't have the desire or the context to do it.

    RIFTs is perhaps the archetypal lasersharked game.
  • Posted By: Matt_SnyderVanilla and Pervy were about mechanical points of contact. Vanilla had few -- many things one did as a group system-wise to accomplish whatever it was they were after. Pervy, contrariwise, was about high points of contact -- even arcane manipulation of mechanics to achieve a thing.
    Could you say a few sentences about what makes a mechanical doodad a "point of contact"?
  • Yeah, and also, is "pervy" just the same as "crunch"? (Can you point to a system, or an actual play example, which is one but not the other?)
  • Posted By: Troy_CostisickCould you give me a good, dictionary definition of lasersharking and then both an Actual Play Report and published Game Design that demonstraits it?
    Arguably, a lot of the stuff on the D&D Fight Club -- http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=dnd/arch/fc -- is probably lasersharking. I am thinking particularly of "Galashia" who is a....

    * Fiendish (i.e., comes from hell)
    * Medusa
    * Vampire
    * Shadowdancer (i.e., ninja)
    * Blackguard (i.e., Sith)
  • Posted By: James_NostackYeah, and also, is "pervy" just the same as "crunch"? (Can you point to a system, or an actual play example, which is one but not the other?)
    I'm curious about this as well. I'm also curious if the terminology was selected with a value judgement in mind; for some, the term "pervy" has a negative bias vs. "vanilla", and for others, "vanilla" is a term with a negative bias. I'd hope that in selecting this terminology, the connotative weight of the words were taken into consideration -- and if that's the case, what were the thoughts about it at the time of its origination?
  • edited May 2007
    The Forge didn't make up the terms "vanilla" and "pervy", as far as I know. The definitions in the glossary were, to my understanding, an attempt by Forgites to define a phenomenon that was being discussed by the greater RPG community. In this regard, it's very similar the debate around the word "railroading". And like railroading, pervy and vanilla are inherently ambiguous and imply certain value judgments, and so were largely abandoned in Forge discourse a while ago.

    [edit] For the record, I was never 100% sure what was meant by the terms myself. [/edit]
  • Posted By: timfireThe Forge didn't make up the terms "vanilla" and "pervy", as far as I know. The definitions in the glossary were, to my understanding, an attempt by Forgites to define a phenomenon that was being discussed by the greater RPG community. In this regard, it's very similar the debate around the word "railroading". And like railroading, pervy and vanilla are inherently ambiguous and imply certain value judgments, and so were largely abandoned in Forge discourse a while ago.

    [edit]For the record, I was never 100% sure what was meant by the terms myself.[/edit]
    I talked with Lenny about this a bit last night. I admit I would have preferred something like "high contact" and "low contact" instead of "pervy" and "vanilla", but I confess I'm still not 100% sure what that means either.
  • edited May 2007
    I'll start by linking to what I now recall as the fundamental thread about Vanilla and Pervy, and then follow up with my own explanation. Here's the link: Vanilla and Pervy [thread #4 of the Five]

    And, here is something sensible I found there from Ron:
    A good way to look at it is that a Pervy system may or may not be complex ("heavy"), but if the system is complex, it's probably Pervy.
    Unfortunately, there's not a twin to that comment about Vanilla. We might imagine it to be: "A good way to look at it is that a Vanilla system may or may not be simple ("light"), but if the system is simple (i.e. not complex), it's probably Vanilla.

    Some examples ...

    In Prime Time Adventures, anyone can award fanmail for whatever reason they wish. There aren't any real ajudications or steps. You just do it. Neat.

    But, there is an actual rules set about this. It's not "rules lite" as code for "Well, let the GM decide whatever he/she wants" or "Just do what you, the group, think is most fun." Instead, there are specific fanmail rules, and an economy for how they work, and a simple indication of how you award fanmail according to the rules. Thus, vannila as distinguished from "rules lite."

    In Nine Worlds, there are lots of pretty Pervy things going on. Here again, there are strict rules. But, they're applied in myriad ways in any given Phase (scene), with many possible points of contact. You can win Points. You can use Points to increase your Muses, create new Muses on the fly, or enact your Urges, and those rules are meant to be followed strictly. How you spend those points is dictated by the timing of your Fate values, and so on. All to decide what happens in a scene, and how the points influence what you're going to say AND what others are going to say in narration.

    However, I do not agree that Nine Worlds is a "crunchy" game, or even a particularly "rules heavy" game. It's not really complex. It's just not. There aren't any "add ons" like feats and such (i.e. Crunch). The rules, once mastered, are all there is. There is no extention or expansion. They cover all possible conflicts and rewards in the game. Thus, it's "Pervy" but not "Rules Heavy."

    The difference between the two is the emphasis the group places on Exploring the System. That's Forge talk for making things happen "in the game" (in the fiction, etc.) by using the system a lot (Pervy) or not a lot (Vanilla).

    So, when you play, do you do a lot of things with the rules and/or mechanical bits to make stuff happen? Or, do you do relatively few things with the rules and/or mechanical bits to make imaginative stuff happen? The former is Pervy. The latter is vanilla.

    And, when we look at that, we don't really know whether the game is "rules heavy" or "rules lite" as we gamers generally have used those terms. Basically, the Forge discussion, started by Ron, found "rules heavy" and "rules lite" terms that everyone used and nobody actually agreed about what the heck they meant.

    I think it was a valid distinction, but one that ultimately fizzled. I do think several Forgers internalized this distinction, and I can't recall "rules heavy" or "rules light" getting used much by people I talk game stuff with.
  • Posted By: Ben LehmanTroy: Lasersharking isn't a thing that's necessarily done in play. It's not a big model theory term, so calling for an AP report is kinda awkward.

    Lasersharking is simply the thing where geeks slap a bunch of different genre elements on top of each other and call it "awesome!" Like, for instance, deadlands. Which isn't just a wild west game, it's a wild west game with magic! Six types of magic! Woo!

    In the context of the original discussion, it's about how this is a thing that geeks like to do that non-geek people ... don't really do, because they don't have the desire or the context to do it.

    RIFTs is perhaps the archetypal lasersharked game.
    I believe the original thread that brought the term into Forge parlance is the July 2003 thread, Sharks With Lasers On Their Heads!!!, started by Jack Spencer. There are a number of people who cite examples from games in that thread, I think.

    Personally, my bias is that I'm a post-modernist fan who goes in for genre-mixing, collage, mash-ups, and so forth. So I generally approve of what is generally called laser-sharking, but I know that it's typically used as a dismissive term.
  • Posted By: Troy_CostisickHeya,

    Could you give me a good, dictionary definition of lasersharking and then both an Actual Play Report and published Game Design that demonstraits it?
    Other examples of published Lasersharky goodness would be Tales From the Floating Vagabond and Lords of Creation.

    LSing with RISUS or almost any freeform would be dead simple. Universalis has several LS-ey examples on the homepage.
  • The special definition for Vanilla really throws me. I've been using the word to mean "generic" or "uninspiring". I used it in a review yesterday for exactly that purpose, in fact.

    I appreciate the helpfulness of clarifying it here, but I think this is another example of a word with a commonly understood meaning being given a specialized meaning which makes talking more difficult.

    The ideas behind Vanilla and Pervy are neat though.
  • CW, your understanding is not incompatible, and I think is an important aspect to the word's meaning.

    A "Vanilla Narr" game has few points of contact, yes -- the game mechanics and procedures do not impinge on the fiction a great deal. It is, in terms of game design, rather boring since the game design itself (and not the resulting fiction) doesn't really do much. The fiction might rock out, but the game design was kind of pale and sad and colorless.

    By contrast, a "Pervy Narr" game has tons of points of contact, and the mechanics and procedures are constantly shoving their nose into the fiction to get things to go in novel, unique, and "pervy" directions ("pervy" is derived from perverse, which means bent -- "pervy" tries to bend the fiction into new shapes).

    There is a boatload of implied disdain for both terms, but I think it's informative disdain. Those who prefer pervy games find vanilla games boring; those who prefer vanilla games find pervy games more convoluted than necessary and hence uncomfortable. And back in the heydey of trying out new stuff, when players first tried out pervy games, they probably felt a certain thrill in doing things in new and interesting ways -- as opposed to Missionary all the damn time, neh?

    (P.S. Poor Vanilla get such a bad rap as being a lack of flavor, when it is, in fact, a very vibrant flavor that is hella tasty. But that's neither here nor there.)
  • Posted By: C.W.RichesonThe special definition for Vanilla really throws me. I've been using the word to mean "generic" or "uninspiring".
    Outside of RPGing, calling something "vanilla" certainly has the connotation of "boring" or "uninspiring". (Which, again, is too bad. I LOVE the taste of vanilla.)
  • Posted By: C.W.RichesonThe special definition for Vanilla really throws me. I've been using the word to mean "generic" or "uninspiring". I used it in a review yesterday for exactly that purpose, in fact.
    Christopher,

    You aren't alone in that and in later posts on the Forge (I can't search them right now) people started moving away from using Pervy and Vanilla and started just saying a system had "High Points of Contact" or "Low Points of Contact" since that seemed a little more descriptive and didn't carry as much other baggage around with it.
    Yeah, and also, is "pervy" just the same as "crunch"? (Can you point to a system, or an actual play example, which is one but not the other?)
    No. A freeform system with no written rules or dice or anything can (and likely will) have a high number of Points of Contact. I wish I could search for the post where someone pointed this out but I can't at the moment. The issue here is that in a freeform game where group consensus must be reached to add something to the fiction then every single thing you want to add actually has to go through the System of getting everyone's approval before adding stuff. That's high points of contact. In a freeform game where anyone can add anything to the fiction without any approval from others, well, that's low points of contact. After all, you just say the thing and it enters the fiction. Neither of these cases are 'crunchy'.
  • I just want to mention that this thread is extra-large deep-dish awesome with double heavy metal sauce. Every question so far has been one that I was about to ask myself, but it's been asked and answered (very clearly, I might add) while I was still busy formulating it. In other words, it's the perfect thread for someone with my particular blend of curiosity and laziness.
  • Aw, Josh beat me to the clarification on Pervy/Vanilla... he's got it precisely right. The reason those terms are used is precisely beacuse each side tends to find the other "odd" for the same reasons as one would apply the terms in question to sex.

    Note that Vanilla is sex jargon...

    One thing I can add, that may elucidate that Pervy does not mean "Crunchy" is that freeform games are amongs the highest in Points of Contact. Or so the argument goes. That's because there's no simple rules that tell you what happens... you have to refer to the system - the GM making arbitrary rulings in most cases - to determine what happens. This is an incredibly simple system - ask the GM. But it's high in POC because you have to refer to the system often to get a result.

    There's a counter-argument for the example, but it's not important if freeform is Pervy or Vanilla (that could be it's own debate). The point is that some games refer you back to the rules constantly to figure out what's going on. Others just say, "Narrate what you want until X comes along" where X is relatively rare.

    For instance, I prefer pervy games. I don't like lots of play to go by without some reference to the system to find out where play should go next. I feel there should be many hooks by which the system demands you to use it. Or a high number of points of contact, in other words.


    Zilchplay - there is a good case for this if only in that in many cases the "real" agenda may be so low-key as to be indeterminate. Put it this way, if you can't tell what the agenda is, it's zilchplay as a description of that fact. What's agreed, generally, is that this is a real phenomenon, play where you can't tell what the agenda is. Even if it's somehow theoretically "gamism" on some unseen level. Basically, as a practical thing, the impetus of play when in zilchplay is low enough that you can't accomodate for it in any particular way.

    It's "sim" in that sim is defined as not putting anything else before exploration. As exploration has to happen for there to be play happening, a game where you can't discern one of the other two agendas could be called sim from that perspective. But that's not very useful. Even if it is sim, somehow, that still doesn't tell you how to address the goals of play and such.


    Simulationism... I am partly to blame about the confusion about this, what with my various attempts to describe sim from other POVs than the standard one. To be clear, Ron and I at least agree on what sim is. All of my alternate models have merely described the same phenomenon in different manners. But the impetus I've had to do this is because I feel that there's so much confusion over just what simulationism is. Though I may well have made things less understandable for more people than I've helped.

    So I'm a tad gunshy about the topic.

    Worse, there seems to be a lot of indentity politics wrapped up in the whole discussion of sim. Again, perhaps, starting with myself. I was one of the strongest reactionaries to The Beeg Horseshoe, Jared Sorensen's attempt to describe sim as a retreat from gamism or narrativism. I stand by that objection, still, but in later days have become more sympathetic to what I see as an important fact that underlies the relationship between the modes. Hence my "Beeg Horseshoe II."

    The identity politics start, however, with the claim that sim is somehow different than the other two modes. Without trying to be provocative, our side sees people worried that sim is being somehow devalued by it's being described as a minority. This feeling, should anyone have it, is probably reinforced by the fact that, even if concilliatory towards sim, it's not indicated as the preferred mode of most of us theory pundits. So the feeling we get is that the feeling the other side gets is that we're not giving sim it's due.

    I'm quite sure that we either sound like:
    "Yeah, yeah, sim is an equal mode, sure."
    Or like I probably have at times:
    "Sim is the most important mode, because it sticks to the basis of what makes RPGs unique!"
    (They think that I'm trying to soothe them)

    It's one of those things like race discussions where you're going to come off as disingenuous even when you're being honest.

    So the other side wants to redefine it to mean something... more equal. It's not "just" exploration, it's... "discovery!" To use the MJ Young model (IIRC?).

    The problem with these is that they tend to all seem to focus on one particular aspect of sim such that they leave large portions of play undescribed. For a select few entrenched individuals, sim is often defined as "How I play? That's sim."

    Now, this is from my highly biased POV. From their POV, I think we look like we're defending a gross accumulation of leftover playstyles - everything not gamism or narrativism - as the style in which they prefer to play (or at least are arguing for). We don't "get" what it's really about, and so our definition doesn't really indicate anything about the style of play that they want to define.

    I come down on the side I come down upon because I feel that the defining line for the modes - why they're mutually exclusive - is in terms of when you can point to a shift in style due to reward systems. Between the various forms of sim, there are few real problems in terms of reward. They all fit together generally. You don't get "incoherent play" at the gross agenda level between these forms. So it seems to me that any breakdown further is to create sub-modes.

    What a lot of people don't keep in mind is that the three Creative Agendas are essentially categories of play across a specific axis. There are other axes that make up the Creative Agenda, other ways to categorize play within it. But GNS specifically is diagnostic for the problems of "incoherency" across methods of decision-making and reward amongst players. To say nothing of sub-categories of the three GNS agendas. These all exist, and all can cause problems. The GNS breakdown only speaks to the broadest categories where we can identify potential trouble between players - incoherency.

    Put more simply, since these are mutually exclusive, this is where players will tend to get alienated in play, if they are expecting a CA other than what the rest of the group are.

    This is not the only use for GNS categories, but it's definitive of them.

    As such, you might be quick to point out that this leaves tons of room open for other methods of categorization, etc, that fit the overall model. And you'd be right. You might also point out that GNS therefore really only impacts a fraction of play, and you'd be right again. You might even say that GNS wasn't all that important.

    And then you'd be agreeing with Ron at last.

    The "Big Model" says that Creative Agendas are whatever they are... that the important part is that they tend to vary, and that can cause problems. This, overall, is much more important to understand than what the particular modes of play may be, or whether or not they are mutually exclusive, or anything else about them.

    If anyone really wants to hear me rant on about how sim varies from gam and nar, that's going to have to be a whole 'nother thread, where I'll be tempted to point people back at the three times I've made cogent attempts at trying to explain it previously. Just sayin.

    Mike
  • I've missed you Mike! image
  • Next question!
  • Simulationism

    A lot of heads got a-nodding during one of the last big Sim discussions on the Forge. In one of them, some people came up with the term "constructive denial." What they meant is that Sim involves not just figuring out what can go into the fiction (and how) but a whole lot of people insisting what cannot go into the fiction (and how). This ties into the "Right to Dream" in that people are using this right to deny stuff because they don't feel it's right. It upsets the Dream, so cross it out.

    The "stuff" that people deny includes fictional elements of all kinds -- basically system, setting, character, situation, and color. The "realism" thing is generally denial of setting (because the player feels the element does not fit "realistically" into the setting) or denial of system (because the player feels the system does not adequately provide a vehicle for "realistic" play). Realism here really means credibility -- something credible doesn't upset the Dream.

    A game can be said to support Simulationism if it provides player tools for constructive denial. Sim games approach this in different ways. GURPS, for example, seems to provide a variety of optional rules that players can use, or not, as they like in order to create the players' Dream. A game like Universalis offers strong rules for determining exactly what the elements of the game are going to be, or not be, through its token system; that is, you have currency for purchasing constructive denial abilities, more or less. Someone with more Universalis experience can stomp on me if I have that wrong.

    Zilchplay

    As I understand it, Zilchplay is the absence of a Creative Agenda. I've never seen the interpretation that it's "low level" G, N, or S but I haven't been paying enough attention to Zilchplay topics. I think I do remember Ron saying that he finally had to admit the existence of Zilchplay in some AP report. I don't think it was touted as a fourth Creative Agenda.

    Pervy / Vanilla

    I don't think these terms are really in vogue any more. I see "Vanilla Narr" occasionally (for example, Ron's AP reports about the Vanilla Narr D&D game that he ran). Mostly I see "points of contact."
  • Zilchplay is a fourth agenda in the sense that any choice about the creative agenda of the group is an agenda, including a choice of "let's not focus on that so strongly, OK?" It's not a creative agenda in the sense that it's not an active approach to how/what people want to create, but instead focuses on other agenda levels (social, technical, etc.) I don't feel strongly about Zilchplay either way, but I always wonder why, in the arguments with anti-theory people, no one mentions Zilchplay as a counterexample to the claim "the so-called `theory' never changes".

    My big complaint about the creative agendas was that they are based on intentions and desires of players, which is something you can never really know, only guess at. Contrast that to technical agendas, like "I like pervy games that use dice, but with low handling time". Once everyone agrees what "pervy" and "handling time" means, it's a bit easier to test for which games fit that agenda.

  • Alright plenty of folks mentioned that Pervy/Vanilla have been deprecated in favor of points of contact. Points of contact haven't been adequately explained in this thread, especially how they differ from the term crunchy in general rpg speak. I'm going to take a crack at it and see if I'm right.

    Crunchy is typically used to refer to the denseness of rules. For example, Rolemaster is incredibly crunchy. Dungeons and Dragons and Burning Wheel are crunchy. Dogs in the Vineyard is not very crunchy. Lacuna is not crunchy.

    Points of contact refer to the process of resolving something when we go to the rules. Note I am speaking of the rules and not system. Points of contact are made in reference to game rules. A game where we do lots of stuff before we resolve whatever we use the rules for has high points of contact. A game where we do very little before we resolve what we're doing has low points of contact. For example both Burning Wheel and Dogs in the Vineyard tend to have high points of contact. Burning Wheel has scripting, you chose stuff, and keep track of points, and then you get a resolution. Dogs while not as crunchy as Burning Wheel also has high points of contact. It has the whole escalation process where we roll a bunch of dice, we take turns saying stuff, and we can bring more dice in, and then more dice, and then we have a resolution. Heroquest or Lacuna have low points of contact. Heroquest you roll a d20, and then you're done. Lacuna you roll a couple of d6's, and then you're done.

    Games can differ I think in their points of contact. Heroquest has low points of contact normally, but it seems like it has high points of contact when you do a Heroquest. (I'm basing this off some assumptions based off Mike's running of the game, I haven't read Heroquest)
  • I would like to know more about Sim. I get how to identify Narrativism, and Gamism, but I don't feel as solid about Sim. Am I right in my thinking that if for instance we were playing Vampire, and someone says, "Tremere wouldn't do that," and that is a legitimate reason, inside that group, to restrict someones creative input to the game we are looking at Sim play?

    Sorry about that last sentence.
  • Clyde, I would call that incredibly awkward Sim play, yes. Usually groups have more subtle and less confrontational means of acheiving consensus.
  • Hi Joshua,

    That must be my problem with identifying Sim, as I have no idea what those methods of achieving consensus are. I know that I enjoy groups with a Sim agenda, so it maybe a problem of being too close to the matter to see it clearly. Can you or some other brave soul expand on what those techniques for building consensus are?
  • Posted By: Clyde L. RhoerCan you or some other brave soul expand on what those techniques for building consensus are?
    If you're just talking about consensus in playstyle generally, yes, I can do that.

    (If you want a specifically Forge-Sim-compatible version, I cannot.)
  • I have the faintest of grips on GNS but I'll take a swing and someone tell me if I get this wrong.

    Because I think the answer to this is REALLY simple but I could be way off. Forgive me if I muddy the waters, here.
    Posted By: Clyde L. RhoerThat must be my problem with identifying Sim, as I have no idea what those methods of achieving consensus are. I know that I enjoy groups with a Sim agenda, so it maybe a problem of being too close to the matter to see it clearly. Can you or some other brave soul expand on what those techniques for building consensus are?
    Player #1: Wanna play a game in the Star Wars universe?

    Player #2: Yeah!

    Player #1: Prequel or New Hope Era?

    Player #3: How about post-Jedi?

    Player #2: post-Jedi would be cool.
  • Posted By: Adam DraySimulationism

    A lot of heads got a-nodding during one of the last big Sim discussions on the Forge. In one of them, some people came up with the term "constructive denial." What they meant is that Sim involves not just figuring out what can go into the fiction (and how) but a whole lot of people insisting what cannot go into the fiction (and how). This ties into the "Right to Dream" in that people are using thisrightto deny stuff because they don't feel it'sright. It upsets the Dream, so cross it out.

    The "stuff" that people deny includes fictional elements of all kinds -- basically system, setting, character, situation, and color. The "realism" thing is generally denial of setting (because the player feels the element does not fit "realistically" into the setting) or denial of system (because the player feels the system does not adequately provide a vehicle for "realistic" play). Realism here really means credibility -- something credible doesn't upset the Dream.

    A game can be said to support Simulationism if it provides player tools for constructive denial.
    Adam, do you have any links for this discussion? Also, this would be a good thing to put in the TheoryTopics wiki -- perhaps with an entry under "Constructive Denial". (?)
  • Posted By: Clyde L. RhoerThat must be my problem with identifying Sim, as I have no idea what those methods of achieving consensus are. I know that I enjoy groups with a Sim agenda, so it maybe a problem of being too close to the matter to see it clearly. Can you or some other brave soul expand on what those techniques for building consensus are?
    Well, think about what constitutes player approval of narrativist or gamist contributions to a game: nothing more explicit than a nod of approval and respect can do just fine. It's not like we have to be jumping up on the table screaming, "Oh my god, that was so cool!" in order to be communicating our approval or disapproval of other players' contributions.
  • Posted By: Ben Lehman
    It's difficult to talk about Simulationism "these days" because the GNS structure has been largely given up in favor of the much more general Creative Agenda structure, with Gamism, Narrativism, and Simulationism as core classifications of Creative Agenda.

    I'm happy to talk about Simulationism, but I need to be able to do so in a context where you understand that there may be contradictions, and those are part of the reason why the GNS structure isn't used a lot as a theory tool anymore.
    Ben, I thank you for the reply, but I don't understand anything you said in it, except for the sense that definitions of Simulationism may be obsolete.

    You lost me when you said that the GNS structure has been given up for the Creative Agenda structure, in which the creative agendas classifications are ... G, N, and S. So therefore we don't use S any more. Huh?

    Can you explain the difference between "GNS structure" and "Creative Agenda structure" to me, especially if the latter seems to rely on the former?

    --Kynn
  • Posted By: Ben LehmanLasersharking is simply the thing where geeks slap a bunch of different genre elements on top of each other and call it "awesome!" Like, for instance, deadlands. Which isn't just a wild west game, it's a wild west game with magic! Six types of magic! Woo!

    In the context of the original discussion, it's about how this is a thing that geeks like to do that non-geek people ... don't really do, because they don't have the desire or the context to do it.

    RIFTs is perhaps the archetypal lasersharked game.
    Ben, aren't most roleplaying games like this? More than just RIFTs, even Dungeons and Dragons (in every possible version) seems to be "lasersharking."

    Why does it seem to have negative connotations, and why is it considered something that non-geek people don't do? (Who are these non-geek people and what do they do instead?)
  • Posted By: Adam DraySimulationismA lot of heads got a-nodding during one of the last big Sim discussions on the Forge. In one of them, some people came up with the term "constructive denial." What they meant is that Sim involves not just figuring out what can go into the fiction (and how) but a whole lot of people insisting what cannot go into the fiction (and how). This ties into the "Right to Dream" in that people are using thisrightto deny stuff because they don't feel it'sright. It upsets the Dream, so cross it out.

    The "stuff" that people deny includes fictional elements of all kinds -- basically system, setting, character, situation, and color. The "realism" thing is generally denial of setting (because the player feels the element does not fit "realistically" into the setting) or denial of system (because the player feels the system does not adequately provide a vehicle for "realistic" play). Realism here really means credibility -- something credible doesn't upset the Dream.

    A game can be said to support Simulationism if it provides player tools for constructive denial. Sim games approach this in different ways. GURPS, for example, seems to provide a variety of optional rules that players can use, or not, as they like in order to create the players' Dream. A game like Universalis offers strong rules for determining exactly what the elements of the game are going to be, or not be, through its token system; that is, you have currency for purchasing constructive denial abilities, more or less. Someone with more Universalis experience can stomp on me if I have that wrong.
    I've read this over, but I don't understand what the term "constructive denial" is meant to represent. Can you please explain this in simple language as a definition?

    Is "right to dream" a piece of jargon, too? What does it mean? And what role does it play?
  • Kynn, did you read my posts? If so, what did you think? I attempted to address questions you are now raising, including explaining what "the Right to Dream" is, which is not to say I've sufficiently explained it for you, perhaps. Or even that I succeeded in explaining it to anyone!

    Also, I took a stab at answering your question about lasersharking in that other thread.
Sign In or Register to comment.