Narrativism vs traditional techniques

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  • Going through that old Forge stuff for the purps of these semiotix posts I'm realizing that in a full blorb game, the Lumpley principle does not apply.
  • (Yeah, and that's a problem for me. It may help to understand, perhaps, that the sort of transformative "breakthrough" you experienced by discovering "blorby" play - finally finding the "good stuff" in gaming! - came for me by encountering and understanding the Lumpley Principle. After all, I had started out the whole business of gaming from the basis of "blorb" or "klockwerk" and a "real game-state", and had a pretty miserable time. So the idea that sticking to "klockwerk" techniques will improve and fix gaming is a hard one for me to take seriously, since that's where I started in the first place.)

    (More theoretically, I'm not sure how you can even maintain a coherent real-world understanding of what happens at the game table without the Lumpley Principle - it's like the concept of evolution by natural selection when it comes to biology, or gravity or the Three Laws of Motion for Newtonian physics, etc; it's pretty fundamental.)
  • edited June 2019
    I think you really just need a very small revision to the Lumpley Baker-Care-Boss Principle:

    From: "System (including but not limited to 'the rules') is defined as the means by which the group agrees to imagined events during play."

    To: "System (including but not limited to 'the rules') is defined as the means by which the group agrees to imagined events and gamestate changes during play."

    Just, recognizing that there are things that matter outside the imagined events. Chess boards for the cat to knock over. Because the chessboard / gamestate is licensed by the social contract every bit as much as the shared imagined space.
  • Hmmm. Interesting! I'll ponder.

    How would that interact with my vorpal sword/green dragon situation?
  • Link please? I can't find it. From another thread?
  • I’d prefer ‘and cue’ changes, rather than gamestate changes, but I imagine that would be an uphill battle.
  • Just to clarify my previous comment because it might come across as snarky. Gamestate is a fine word and makes sense. I prefer cue because it includes changes like:

    I’m going to change the endurance rules

    As well as

    I’m going to play out the (offscreen) battle with miniatures to see who won

  • edited June 2019
    Ok, to recap: You've got a dungeon. In the prep, we've written two things:

    1. "Vorpal sword in room A."
    2. "Every 10 minutes of exploration, roll a d%. On a 99-100, a green dragon approaches."

    Baker-Care-Boss Principle-wise, the group's obviously agreed that when we roll a green dragon, that bad brother gets injected into imagined events and if need be the gamestate, yeehaw!

    Are you also asking whether the presence of the encounter table in the prep implies that there's a green dragon in the gamestate, before we ever roll?

    Depends on the rules.

    In other words, depends on whether this group has agreed that every entity on an encounter table is in the gamestate but not yet in the imagined events...

    Or whether they've agreed that entities on an encounter table are mere potential, and they get added to the gamestate and imagined events simultaneously when they're rolled.

    In practice I think most groups use something of a mix. For the tables I'm working on right now, the convention will be: named or unique entities are in the gamestate, generic entities get added to the state only when they're rolled.
  • edited June 2019
    From the standpoint of the PCs, I think offscreen prep corresponds to what Deleuze calls "the virtual" (in the sense of the possible though not manifest). I do not suggest that we use this term, since its two meanings already cause a lot of confusion in other circles, but it does bring to light another distinction that needs made:

    In @Paul_T 's example there is a clear difference between (A) the prepped/placed sword and (B) the fact that according to the wandering monster table, even before the GM has rolled the dice, the dragon might exist. Both of these things are "virtual" in Deleuze's sense, but just before the PCs enter the room the sword is only virtual to them (to the GM it is already in the "gamestate"), while in example B the dragon is virtual to everyone at the table. This difference is not just a matter of a flipped bit: these two types of objects have completely different lines of ingress and means of state change.

    So yeah, the various levels of ontology and virtuality present in a game will need words if they are to be discussed, but low-res/abstract terms like "real" will not be up to the task, and this is exactly why philosophers are always inventing their own nuanced words and use cases for them. I'm fine with "gamestate" but I don't think it will carry us the whole way.

    At a certain point we will need to begin speaking of "orders" or "levels" of nested or hierarchically-relative ontologies, and of virtualities (in the sense of potential events) relative to different players, functional roles ("GM," "Player," even "Player with a Drama Token," etc), as well as to playstyles, rulesets, situations, and maybe even genres. These are all assemblages of different types. Some are encapsulated within others, and even this encapsulation differs depending on game rules and playstyle.

    It would be a huge mistake to think that a single ontological model could encompass all possible states of all possible objects and potentialities in all possible rulesets that all humans might consider an "RPG" without sacrificing the majority of useful detail to abstraction, leaving us back in the "cloud."
  • The more I consider it, the more I think the idea of gamestate is completely compatible with Vincent and Emily's Principle as originally stated, no modification necessary.

    Gamestate is, after all, simply a highly regimented way by which the group agrees to imagined events.
  • Paul, re your uneasiness because of your previous bad experiences with this concept, I think you’re right that there are some other missing pieces. A porte-monstre-trésor array, some saliency time zooming, more dramatic [rather than zany] PCs, rules to generate/reward that drama.

    I think you really just need a very small revision to the Lumpley Baker-Care-Boss Principle:

    From: “System (including but not limited to ‘the rules’) is defined as the means by which the group agrees to imagined events during play.”To: “System (including but not limited to ‘the rules’) is defined as the means by which the group agrees to imagined events and gamestate changes during play.”Just, recognizing that there are things that matter outside the imagined events. Chess boards for the cat to knock over. Because the chessboard / gamestate is licensed by the social contract every bit as much as the shared imagined space.

    So, and my reasoning for the following can be found here, I want to move away from focusing on the “shared imagined space” and instead incorporating the offscreen gamestate into our model of the diegesis as a whole. In our model, unshared facts can be canon.

    In our model, Kanadius [an NPC from B4 The Lost City] is an entity that can be part of the diegesis even without anyone in our own group knowing that he exists. (Just like The Show is part of the diegesis for the Moneyball movie even while the DVD is still in it’s shrink wrapper and we haven’t seen it yet.)

    Because during prep sometimes you go “OK, this module goes here, this one goes here” and maybe you don’t read them that carefully because you’re not sure the PCs are gonna go there. In a semiotic analysis of our model, that exact moment is when the referent is constructed, when you say “OK the Lost City goes in this hex”. I’ll drop the semiotics talk btw, sorry for nerding it up yesterday; it was sort of a direct reply to… uh… some posts from 15 years ago♥

    The fact that Kanadius is the Grand Master of the Brotherhood of Gorm, that fact is also an entity that’s part of the diegesis in the same manner.

    In our model, the rules do cover injecting entities into the diegesis even when that action isn’t “shared”.

    Now, for my own game, that “rule” isn’t particularly systemic, the rule is I can do pretty much whatever I want in terms of adding tier 1 and tier 2 ‘truth’ entities between sessions (and that it’s better to do it between campaigns than between sessions but that’s also a very difficult limitation creating a lot of upfront work. Which @Jon and friend managed to pull off otoh. One day…) whereas changing things would be more controversal. The tier 3 layer is a last-resort safety-net. “Oops I guess that chest was empty [note to self, make rules to disclaim decision-making for chest contents].” (Btw, this is kind of a side observation but the tier three fallback sometimes also creates new rules; “I don’t know how much magically active moss you can find in a day in the forest, let me make some rules for finding that out.”)

    When I first started wrestling with this new model, from OSR games, I was like “Oooh, the dungeon-generation and the dungeon-stocking algorithms are key”. I wanted to solve the chasm width problem.

    No, while they are really good tools for producing a well made porte-monstre-trésor array, following them strictly isn’t necessary; it turns out “No Paper before seeing Rock” is enough to solve the chasm width problem. The rules for what you introduce can be kinda generous/sloppy towards the DM, as long as you’re careful about when you introduce things. Those algorithms are useful because you want a good match of goals to problems (“gold” to “monsters”), and they can help you find that sorta self-balancingness that D&D can have when the players can sorta decide on their own which areas they are ready for and which areas they are not strong enough for yet. But while “No Paper before seeing Rock” is an appropriate rule for OSR-style prep; it’s not sufficient for something like an on-model take on BW-like game where you’d want to have a rule or system that injects entities into the diegesis that are especially appropriate for the protagonized Beliefs.

    What we do in actual practice in our D&D game [so not sure how prescriptive this particular example should be] is that we can inject entities into the diegesis when we are in character creation mode. “Oh, you rolled up that you had a rival from theatre school? I’ll place her in town X and also on encounter tables Y and Z.” Now, yes, I had seen Rock while choosing that Paper. So apparently the “No Paper before seeing Rock” principle isn’t the be-all, end-all solution and we need to find a better rule to replace it. (These entities have so far been a very tiny fraction of the sum of all canonical entites in the diegesis.)

  • edited June 2019
    Hi @Jeph,

    If understand what is being proposed about "gamestate" is that it includes information/facts that have not yet been shared and thus lies utterly outside the purview of the Lumpley Principle (BCB). If my understanding of "gamestate" is incorrect then, of course, my argument holds no relevance.

    The very foundation of role-play as defined by Exploration (Sharing Imaginings among players - Setting, Situation, Character, Color and Setting) is the actual communication among the players.

    This as lifted from The Big Model Wiki re: the Lumpley Principle -
    You can point to the pages of your book all you want to. You can imagine stuff in your head all you want to.

    The fact is that nothing happens, in the fiction of role-playing, unless someone says it and it's heard by others. Even if the book says, "On a critical hit, you do double damage," your character won't actually do double damage on a critical hit unless someone recognizes it and says it.

    ...

    "System (including but not limited to 'the rules') is defined as the means by which the group agrees to imagined events during play." ...
    I agree with @AsIf that the part of the game that exists outside the SIS has not been well discussed and the need for some specific vocabulary to help that discussion along is important.

    However, what it is absolutely fundamental to role-play is that you have human beings communicating (by whatever method) with each other.

    Best,

    Jay

    Edit - cross posted with Sandra so this post does not touch upon anything in her post.
  • I think your discussion of "No Paper before seeing Rock" is exactly on the ball. It's absolutely key to blorby/klockwerk play - the whole concept of disciplined prep. (And it's also freeing to realize that this means you can make all kinds of stuff up on the spot, so long as it precedes the players' choice - the proverbial "Rock". Maintaining that hygiene is much easier if you do it well in advance, but it's not impossible - for instance, not knowing what the players are thinking of doing is often sufficient for a "on the spot" invention to be entirely hygienic.)
    “Oh, you rolled up that you had a rival from theatre school? I’ll place her in town X and also on encounter tables Y and Z.” Now, yes, I had seen Rock while choosing that Paper. So apparently the “No Paper before seeing Rock” principle isn’t the be-all, end-all solution and we need to find a better rule to replace it. (These entities have so far been a very tiny fraction of the sum of all canonical entites in the diegesis.)
    This is exactly correct, and the root of the problem with this particular thread:

    In Narrativist play, we generally/usually *want* to choose Paper after seeing Rock. Making those choices - what will I do with that rival from theatre school so as to make life interesting for the PC? - is at the heart of play.

    There are all the same issues of saliency and Paper-before-Rock, but they occur in very different places and in very different ways. (Now, our hygiene is all about taking our hands off the PCs' choices and the resolution of in-game conflicts, instead of porte-monstre-tresor.*)


    *: If you look at AW's rules, you'll find all kinds of ways that they force the MC(GM) to take their hands off these decision points, from the way you can't change the "difficulty" of making moves to "all NPCs have the same number of hit points" to "under these conditions, this move gets triggered" to "this is how hunger works in the hardhold" to "say what honesty demands/what your prep demands" and so on and so on. It's much more subtle than in earlier Narrativist designs, but it's enough to have a strong effect on gameplay.
  • edited June 2019

    Are you also asking whether the presence of the encounter table in the prep implies that there's a green dragon in the gamestate, before we ever roll?

    Depends on the rules.

    In other words, depends on whether this group has agreed that every entity on an encounter table is in the gamestate but not yet in the imagined events...
    I was hoping my italicized text at the bottom of my post would be enough to address this, but apparently it wasn't. I'll clarify again:

    Imagine, for the sake of the example, that we're dealing with a general-purpose, large-scale random table collection, like a "Blorbella's Tome of Random Encounter Charts for All Occasions, volume 17" - one of those thick tomes with 100 random encounters or monsters per page.

    Maybe the GM's procedure is to open the book to a random page and then roll a d100.
  • Great & constructive post, @AsIf . Thank you.

    In @Paul_T ’s example there is a clear difference between (A) the prepped/placed sword and (B) the fact that according to the wandering monster table, even before the GM has rolled the dice, the dragon might exist. Both of these things are “virtual” in Deleuze’s sense, but just before the PCs enter the room the sword is only virtual to them (to the GM it is already in the “gamestate”),

    Arguably all entities in the diegesis are Deleuze-“virtual”, even to the participants that are aware of them. I think that’s sort of a key difference between the diegetical layer and the “dice” layer. This orange d20 is not Deleuze-“virtual”. This ink on this character sheet is not Deleuze-“virtual”. Both the swords are Deleuze-“virtual”.

    The swords have a sense that isn’t material.

    This difference is not just a matter of a flipped bit: these two types of objects have completely different lines of ingress and means of state change.

    You need a couple of “flipped bits” [I refer to “bits” as predicates]

    • Injected into the diegesis
    • Made aware to participant X [one such predicate per participant]

    For example, the DM becomes made aware of the existence of Kanadius when she reads map key number 12. Kanadius had previously been injected into the diegesis when the DM decided that the B4 The Lost City module whole cloth was “canon” in the gamestate.

    At a certain point we will need to begin speaking of “orders” or “levels” of nested or hierarchically-relative ontologies, and of virtualities (in the sense of potential events) relative to different players, functional roles (“GM,” “Player,” even “Player with a Drama Token,” etc), as well as to playstyles, rulesets, situations, and maybe even genres. These are all assemblages of different types. Some are encapsulated within others, and even this encapsulation differs depending on game rules and playstyle.

    Since predicates can be recursive, I think predicates and sets are enough to model it. “Good enough for gaming” as Steve Jackson likes to say♥

    But that might end up being famous last words. Of course yes I am interested in a more ambitious ontological model but in the end we’ll succumb to the incompleteness theorem.

    It would be a huge mistake to think that a single ontological model could encompass all possible states of all possible objects and potentialities in all possible rulesets that all humans might consider an “RPG” without sacrificing the majority of useful detail to abstraction

    Oh, it doesn’t have to cover all games. Just a really good one that we can play & enjoy.

    Just like AW’s IIEE flow is a very harsh mismatch with the one in Genesys for example.

    leaving us back in the “cloud.”

    Wallpaper can go in there.

    Again, thanks for the patient & generous engagement with this issue.

  • “Oh, you rolled up that you had a rival from theatre school? I’ll place her in town X and also on encounter tables Y and Z.” Now, yes, I had seen Rock while choosing that Paper. So apparently the “No Paper before seeing Rock” principle isn’t the be-all, end-all solution and we need to find a better rule to replace it. (These entities have so far been a very tiny fraction of the sum of all canonical entites in the diegesis.)
    This is exactly correct, and the root of the problem with this particular thread:

    In Narrativist play, we generally/usually *want* to choose Paper after seeing Rock. Making those choices - what will I do with that rival from theatre school so as to make life interesting for the PC? - is at the heart of play.
    That's not a problem with the thread, instead, it's why the thread is valuable. There is obviously unclear/unfinished design work in this area and the "No Paper after seeing Rock" [whoops I see that I wrote "before" in some places] principle is more of a rough guideline; we want to create a way to think about rules in this space.
  • Indeed. I'm saying that those rules (at least to some extent; enough for people to play happily and successfully - it could always be better!) already exist, and was under the impression that you were willfully ignoring them.

    I'm happy to be corrected! I think this thread is potentially the awesomesauce. :)

    I've been waiting for all these pages to get into some nitty-gritty (@AsIf seems to have semiotics end of things under control, so I'm not needed there, after all)...

    Let's do it!
  • Jay, I’ll go through this text. I’ll arrange it out of order a bit. The original is here.

    Role-playing is made of talking like apple pie is made of apples and crust and scary amounts of butter.

    In our new model, roleplaying also uses other “ingredients” beyond just the spoken word. The gamestate has been extended beyond the spoken entities to also cover some unspoken entities.

    You can point to the pages of your book all you want to. You can imagine stuff in your head all you want to.

    The fact is that nothing happens, in the fiction of role-playing, unless someone says it and it’s heard by others.

    In our new model, things can enter the diegesis (in other words, “happen”, or even just arise as ontological diegetic entities, “in the fiction”) by other means than someone saying it and someone else hearing it. Chris Lehrich’s “closet languages theorem” is not axiomatically a part of the premises we’re working with for this model.

    Even if the book says, “On a critical hit, you do double damage,” your character won’t actually do double damage on a critical hit unless someone recognizes it and says it.

    Mistakes can happen, and the gamestate can get altered by mistakes. That’s an issue that is wholly orthogonal to the issue of when things are injected to the diegesis [at prep time, in our model, or when they are shared, in the “No-Myth” model].

    For example, someone might say that the Hardhold fortress is on the western cliff edge in session one and then in session two they misremember it and say it’s on the eastern edge and then it’s on the eastern edge going forward.

    Whatever mechanics you use, you are agreeing to use them among the group, usually as a creative inspiration or constraint, specifically as a way to affect what is going to be said.

    In our new model, we also want to make mechanics to cover injection of entities into the diegesis temporally separate from when they are being stated. Or in other words: prep is canon.

    Hope that helps.♥

  • For example, someone might say that the Hardhold fortress is on the western cliff edge in session one and then in session two they misremember it and say it’s on the eastern edge and then it’s on the eastern edge going forward.
    The mistake correction process has also revelatory for how applicable our new model is;
    since often mismatches from what's been said, compared to what's in the prep, have been corrected even though when looking only at the subset of the diegesis that had been shared at the table, that subset would've been consistent if the mistake had been left to stand. In other words: prep is canon.
  • @AsIf seems to have semiotics end of things under control, so I'm not needed there, after all
    … I thought I was the one that had that end of things under control? Or am I the fire you guys tryna put out♥
  • I think the gamestate being known to some is also a good way to identify rewards (being the only one-s to know) and enables to categorize "information divulgation" techniques, like in, say, detective or horror stories.
  • edited June 2019
    Yes, DeReel. I've been thinking "But what about things that only some participants know?" in relation to the "No-myth" model. In our new model, that's obviously nothing controversial, but can be an interesting part of play.

    The discovery pillar (from the "conflict/discovery/interaction" three pillars) is enabled by this concept.
  • in the sixties nerds were talking about like the being and nothingness and the thousand plateaus and shit but what are we doing with our time & smarts? fightin' orcs :bawling::bawling::bawling:
  • (I'm reading along and paying attention. But, just for the record, I'm leery of this interpretation. For starters, it was hashed and rehashed for years by all the Forge folks until it was discarded. It's a very old-school/traditional way of thinking about RPGs, and I'd be surprised if it can survive that kind of dissection again a second time. Anyway, don't mind me; just wanted to register my disclaimer - do go on!)
  • But, just for the record, I'm leery of this interpretation. For starters, it was hashed and rehashed for years by all the Forge folks until it was discarded. It's a very old-school/traditional way of thinking about RPGs, and I'd be surprised if it can survive that kind of dissection again a second time.
    There are games built on the model that entities are injected into the diegesis only as they are uttered. The Baker/Care-Boss principle does apply to those games.

    We want to have another model that enables other games.

    The principle "Magic cards have relevant text only on the front side of the cards" was true for 18 years... and then the Innistrad expansion came out with text and art printed on the back of cards too.

    Design space can grow when principles change.
  • I understand that. From where I'm sitting, this is more like saying, "Hey, what if we ignored those Innistrad cards, and make it a new rule that 'relevant text can only be on the front side of the cards', and see what we can make with that?"

    It's going backwards, in order of the development of those ideas. (This idea of the gamestate, although not in those words, of course, is how everyone I knew approached gaming back in the early 90's, and is strongly implied by the earliest D&D texts.)

    However, I'm ready to keep an open mind, because I'm *super excited* about any possibility of the design space growing, as you say. I'm just saying: be smart and careful and be aware that some very smart and knowledgeable people have torn down this approach before. You'll have to have bulletproof arguments or some really cool proof-of-concept designs! (Sometimes even incorrect ideas/theories can give birth to some great stuff, after all.)

    Anyway, back to the point - I don't want this to become a digression from the actual topic.
  • I understand that. From where I’m sitting, this is more like saying, “Hey, what if we ignored those Innistrad cards, and make it a new rule that ‘relevant text can only be on the front side of the cards’, and see what we can make with that?”

    To me, that’s what the “no-myth” model was when it was introduced. “Let’s ignore that there are unshared but canon diegetical entities and let’s redefine the canon to only be entities that have been shared”.

    That has also happened in Magic’s history.

    Up until and including the Weatherlight expansion, the order of cards in the graveyard was a relevant part of the gamestate and that was used to design cards like the Nether Shadow.

    Then they said “what if we ignored those cards, said that cards in the graveyard can be rearranged at will, and see what we can make with that?”. A similar evolution happened with cards that interact with the set of cards that are being gambled for (the “ante” zone), when Magic stopped gambling over cards.

    And both of those changes did lead to productive design; just as how “let’s see what games we can make with the No-myth model” led and games such as Scattershot Lady Blackbird were invented. (And, for that matter, SLUG a decade earlier.)

    The “no-myth” model is a rule that says “entities can only be injected into the diegesis by being shared”.

    [For example, the predicate entity “The party, except the rogue, are currently in room 12” is injected into the diegesis by the playes saying “We go through the door. We are using Alice’s torch, which is lit”.]

    Full blorb games break that rule, by having some canonical entities being injected into the diegesis at prep time.

    [For example, the predicate entity “The coolest sword of all time, BLACKRAZOR, Stormbringer’s punk li’l brother, is in room 12” can be a canon part of the gamestate even though only one participant is aware of that fact, or maybe no-one if the DM has injected the module whole-cloth.]

    The replacement for that rule is vague; I use the three tiers + the wallpaper saliency principle + the No Paper after seeing Rock principle. We have fruitful design space here for where we can script some “moves” around this.

    My own desire for using this design space is ofc to keep the character/world gap large, to make the world seem “real”, etc. Injecting custom “Belief-challenging” entities as freely as BW lets the GM do it does not appeal to me. I want the entity injection to be more moderated by a gloracle—i.e. decisions disclaimed to a greater degree.

    The goal, according to my own desire, is to keep a high degree of symmetry in the degree of canonicity in how the DM and the players treat the diegetic elements, respectively.

    The “magic mirror” in such a setup is something that the DM treats with as much respect as the players do; it’s an established game-state entity. [Sorry for the academese but obv the world “real” got misunderstood pretty badly.]

    If we can find a way to satisfy both of the following constraints:

    • entity canonicity has a high degree of cross-screen symmetry [i.o.w. keep it very blorby!]
    • many entities are relevant to character beliefs. Not so many so that the world starts to seem fake/overly-custom, but enough that the world is relevant [i.o.w. increase the degree of protagonization]

    we’d be golden. (By the way can’t they die in BW?)

    Now, what I’m tryna do is to get player characters that that challenge each other’s beliefs. A la hillfolk. But it’s been an uphill battle. I should whip out the literal Hillfolk book again though. After the TPK last Tuesday my dorx started doing new characters and they Just Would Not want to hook them into each other. Each hobo an island. :bawling:

    I’m gonna try to whip those primitive screwheads in shape in that regard for today’s session.

  • Each hobo an island. :bawling:
    Because we don't have enough experience with, vocab for, rules around, and a model for the type of activities we are doing in "character creation & dungeon prepping" mode as opposed to the "in play" mode which, through these last years of developing the various pillars & principles & glossaries, has become very refined.

    Hence thread
  • You can make all kinds of stuff up on the spot, so long as it precedes the players' choice [...]. Maintaining that hygiene is much easier if you do it well in advance, but it's not impossible - for instance, not knowing what the players are thinking of doing is often sufficient for a "on the spot" invention to be entirely hygienic.
    Exactly. Preparing content is just one way to help a GM maintain neutrality.
    In Narrativist play, we generally/usually *want* to choose Paper after seeing Rock. Making those choices - what will I do with that rival from theatre school so as to make life interesting for the PC? - is at the heart of play.
    I fully agree.

    In a lot of gamist play, we want to make interesting choices (in a particular arena -- combat only in my last D&D 4e campaign, just about everything in most "sandbox" campaigns -- I think that's one way to interpret the term) and then have them judged fairly (typically in terms of success-failure), e.g. by a transparent process (e.g. the application of the combat rules without fudging).

    Other options than transparency exist, e.g. trust in the GM, though such trust may have to be earned, particularly with the looming spectre of illusionism. For instance, trust may be built by a campaign accruing TPKs, easy wins, anticlimaxes etc. A multi-pronged approach (transparency, accumulating trust, hygienic principles etc.) is probably best.

    In narrativist play, we want to make interesting choices and thereby judge the fiction ourselves (i.e., address premise). In many narrativist designs, it is largely irrelevant* how the situations offering these choices come about (similar to how in my above-mentioned 4e campaign the players did not care much how the PCs got involved in the GM's next set-piece combat -- the GM had to be a neutral referee only once we rolled for initiative).

    *Not irrelevant, really. I'm trying to express that the GM/player setting up a situation has a lot of leeway improvising it specifically to bring about those sought-after hard choices, tailoring them to the PCs and their recent decisions, current state etc..
  • trust in the GM
    Trust but verify. For example, trust falls is a good trust exercise because you know that your trust paid off because the other person catched you. (Same goes for the "knife sleep" trust exercise in one of my fave novels, Kallocain.)

    "Trust that I gave you the water glass I hadn't spat in" is a bad trust exercise because that's just gonna grow paranoia over time, not grow trust.
  • edited June 2019

    The “no-myth” model is a rule that says “entities can only be injected into the diegesis by being shared”.

    [For example, the predicate entity “The party, except the rogue, are currently in room 12” is injected into the diegesis by the playes saying “We go through the door. We are using Alice’s torch, which is lit”.]
    Full blorb games break that rule, by having some canonical entities being injected into the diegesis at prep time.
    [For example, the predicate entity “The coolest sword of all time, BLACKRAZOR, Stormbringer’s punk li’l brother, is in room 12” can be a canon part of the gamestate even though only one participant is aware of that fact, or maybe no-one if the DM has injected the module whole-cloth.]
    But isn't this just an agreement at the social contract level ("I shall use all modules as written.")?

    As far as I can see, Blackrazor is only shared the moment it is described to the players present at the table. Before that, there is just a promise on the part of the GM, the breaking of which could be discovered).
  • But isn’t this just an agreement at the social contract level (“I shall use all modules as written.”)?

    As far as I can see, Blackrazor is only shared the moment it is described to the players present at the table. Before that, there is just a promise on the part of the GM, the breaking of which could be discovered).

    We want to design games where entities (such as swords) can enter into the diegesis not only when they are being shared but also at other times. Such as during prep.

    We also want limits on when and how those entities can be altered once they’ve ented the diegesis; the injection of entities and their predicates moderated by rules.

  • edited June 2019
    entities (such as swords) can enter into the diegesis not only when they are being shared but also at other times. Such as during prep.
    To me, this is a contradiction in terms. I'm not interested in arguing semantics,* though, so please carry on -- I'll be happy to just read along. It's an interesting discussion!

    *Which I did myself with "isn't this...?" and, even worse, "isn't this just...?". My apologies.
  • edited June 2019
    Right, "part of the canon offscreen gamestate" might be a phrase for it that you find less contradictory. SImilarly to how I can be dealt a Queen of Spades in Bridge and the gamestate now canonically has me holding a Queen of Spades, even before it has been played to a trick and been revealed to everyone.

    Roleplaying game diegetic entities are "made by words" but words can [in our model] be used in ways that extend beyond the immediate spoken word.
  • In such a way that "My princess' maid is called Mavalda" is in the diegesis even if I only write it at the back of my character sheet ? Or is it the GM's authority on content that creates a specific glitch ?
  • In such a way that "My princess' maid is called Mavalda" is in the diegesis even if I only write it at the back of my character sheet ?
    Yes.

  • edited June 2019
    So you clearly use diegesis in this sense : "c'est l'univers d'une œuvre, le monde qu'elle évoque et dont elle représente une partie." (wikipedia ; tr : "It's the universe of a novel, the world it evokes and of which the novel represents only a part.") Diegesis can be more or less subjective but is always an interpretation.

    The term "game state" is a bit different, because it goes with the means to track it (preparation notes and drawings, character sheets and play notes, counters, etc.) The "game state" is objective. It does not describe all there is in a game though, far from it. It doesn't take into account body language at the table, for instance. It goes without saying but I'd rather say it, so you don't build a model of roleplaying where literacy has supremacy.
  • Oui, c'est vrai.
    The literate model.
  • Yeah, that’s an important distinction to make.

    It seems to me that canon/setting information plays a big role in that, as well (like “we’re playing in Middle Earth” or “moral/spiritual alignments are a real thing in this world).

  • Are you also asking whether the presence of the encounter table in the prep implies that there's a green dragon in the gamestate, before we ever roll?

    Depends on the rules.

    In other words, depends on whether this group has agreed that every entity on an encounter table is in the gamestate but not yet in the imagined events...

    Or whether they've agreed that entities on an encounter table are mere potential, and they get added to the gamestate and imagined events simultaneously when they're rolled.
    I was hoping my italicized text at the bottom of my post would be enough to address this, but apparently it wasn't. I'll clarify again:

    Imagine, for the sake of the example, that we're dealing with a general-purpose, large-scale random table collection, like a "Blorbella's Tome of Random Encounter Charts for All Occasions, volume 17" - one of those thick tomes with 100 random encounters or monsters per page.

    Maybe the GM's procedure is to open the book to a random page and then roll a d100.
    Oh, I don't think this actually changes my answer, really.

    Though I have a hard time imagining a group using Blorbella's Vol. 17 going with the "everything on the encounter table is in the diegesis" option over the "things on the encounter table get injected into the diegesis when rolled" option.
  • Yeah, that’s exactly what I’m trying to say! It would be a WILD stretch to say that those things are part of the “game state”.
  • With our current crude tools [hence thread: we want to get some more design done in this space!!!] then yes. I guess in my practice there's a mix. Sometimes an encounter table is very legitimate of the people running around in this region.
  • (Yeah, I’ve seen all kinds of variations on this.)
  • Sure. For that group, entries on encounter tables are clearly not yet diegetic.

    But a lot of the time, you'll see an encounter table like this (from a game I'm prepping):
    1. Mother Hen: A giant, talking, flying chicken with extremely soft, downy feathers. She is always willing to provide safety and fly someone home, if they are lost or in distress—unless she is sitting an egg (25% chance). She lays giant eggs that hatch normal-sized chickens, albeit incredibly clever ones. Eating the golden yolks cures poisons and diseases, removes afflictions and curses, and can even revive the recently deceased. As a Roc with mental abilities of 16. She gives her reddish speckled feathers to her friends; they are Common one-use items that can be used to call her. She'll come along quick as she can, if not sitting an egg, arriving in (d4) minutes, tens of minutes, hours, or days. The feathers don't work for anyone but the one she gives them to.
    2. Les Trois Sourisquetaires: The mice, Athos, Porthos, and Aramis, who are considered by many (and certainly by themselves) to be the greatest adventurers of the age. They are just talking mice; no particular combat ability, but they always want to prove themselves the cleverest and bravest. They are quick to take insult, issue challenge, and strike up a rivalry, and profuse with stories of their own exploits. Each 1HD.
    3. Collector: A forty-foot-tall brass and ceramic stick-man who strides across the world on stilt-legs, plucking up things and placing them in the bird-cages that dangle from his body. He is intelligent, and many things interest him; he will often stop to listen or contemplate. But he never responds; merely swats things away and strides off if annoyed. Swarms of easily-angered wasps live in several of his cages. (As an Iron Golem with d4+1 insect swarms. Instead of poison breath, when he hits with a Slam, may forego dealing damage to snatch a Medium or smaller creature up and place it in a cage. Base speed is 60 feet. Disengage as bonus action. Int 14. Gargantuan size.)
    4. Red dragons, out hunting; lair located in the nearest mountains, possibly quite distant. Equal chance of Wyrmling, Young, Adult, or Ancient. Wyrmlings will be a clutch of 1d4; young adults and ancient are solitary; adults have a 50% chance of being in a mated pair. If followed back to its mountain lair, a wyrmling's hoard is worth 1d6 x 100 GP; each age category is x10. Plus 50% chance of a magic item: uncommon for wyrmling, rare for young adult, very rare for adult, and legendary for ancient.
    5. ...
    Here, it's clearly a mix.

    The existence of Mother Hen, the Mouseketeers, and Collector as individuals are part of the game state and diegetic, but not yet shared.

    The red dragons are more complicated. The potential for red dragons is in the rules (we've agreed on this procedure that can result in red dragons appearing in the game state and imagined events). I'd probably say it's also in the game state: the potential, that is, not the dragons themselves. Are rules-in-the-textual-sense (as opposed to Baker-Care-Boss Principle rules) that we've agreed to use per the B-C-B Principle part of the game state, idunno?

    I'm unclear about whether or not the potential for red dragons is in the diegesis. I think yes: per this particular game's convention, a generic entry on an encounter table means that at least one entity of that type exists.

    It's very much not yet shared, that's sure. The game hasn't even started. Only one of the future players knows it even exists. (And yet, it has some state and diegesis already!)

    The hoard of indeterminate size and possible magic items possessed by possible red dragons, I think, are firmly in the same category as the entries in the roll tables in Blorbella's Vol. 17.
  • Quite right. A random encounter table can be “this thing exists; when do we encounter it?” and it can be “what is in that room?”, and gradations in between.

    The point of all this is that it’s not as simple as “improvised = it wasn’t there in the first place” and “generated by random table or procedure = it was always part of the game state”. The way gaming works isn’t that simple.

    And there’s ALWAYS room for, “hey we rolled this encounter/this is what the module says now, but that makes no logical sense and breaks our sense of what’s happening in the game, so we can’t accept it”, which is the Lumpley Principle in action.
  • Right, like, we've just established a few minutes ago that The Red-Dragon Snuffing Orb has eliminated all red dragons everywhere ever, but I haven't had a chance to alter the encounter table, but we roll encounter #4...
  • Precisely.
  • Hello,

    The problem with using the literate/textural mode of diegesis WRT to RPGs is that the totality of the text has yet to be written. For the diegesis to exist the text has to be read by a human being.

    What I'm picking up so far, but to my very poor memory, has not been made explicit is that what is being described as canon is being used in two different ways WRT to RPGs.

    1. You have the preparations made by the GM which are claimed to canon. The information contained within said canon is not available to the players at this state. I'm just avering that it is only the GM who has knowledge of the contents of the canon.

    2. You have the canon of the SIS. This is the record of what actually happened as a result of play. This canon is shared and known by all the players including the GM. This can only happen via a communication process amongst the players, which includes the GM whereby all the players agree via consensus that of all the events proposed only those agreed upon actually have credibility. The Lumpley (BCB) Principle in action.

    The sticking point of calling type 1 canon is that no one but the GM knows about it. I'm getting the sense that the end run around that issue is that via Social Contract Agreement the players can read the canon (the text) post hoc, e.g. after the act of Exploration (in theory terms) has come to a conclusion because it never ran through the Lumpley Principle.

    One way to address this, which is nothing new to theory, is consider that each player has their own imaginary space while the table has the Shared Imaginary Space. Even with this formulation one has problem that the when the Game State has yet to have any presence upon the Fact Space (the SIS).

    Let's go back to the chess game analogy. The chess board represents the SIS. The pieces the various PC's and monsters. The rules of play represent the System/resolution mechanics. They not only inform what each piece can do, what moves are illegal and how to resolve combat. So this chessboard with the pieces and where they currently are situation represent the current state of the SIS through time. The referee/judge would be the Lumpley (BCB) Principle. Victory or loss (this standing in for the abstracts that are so important in roleplay) is only informed by the pieces and how they are arranged on the board.

    But lo! There is much more going on in the head of the chess players than in represented on the chessboard. What the chessboard is utterly agnostic about is the significance of the positioning of the pieces. Nor does the chessboard concern itself with the intentions of the players i.e., what they are planning on doing next. The only thing the chessboard is about is where the pieces are right now. It's the players that glean meaning and significance from what on the board. Yet the players aren't solely concerned about what's on the board. One might be concerned that their position is untenable and fight to a quick draw to conserve mental stamina for the next match. Maybe the winning player knows that the losing player has a real problem with noise so chomps and snaps gum.

    But more the point about game-state the losing player may have studied every game the winning player has played and know his weaknesses. The losing player know this information well enough to bring it into play and defeat the winning player. But unless the losing player puts his knowledge and plan into action it does not matter to the game-state. That knowledge of how to win this match was not put into action and thus had no effect on the game-state.

    IOW what was privately know but not publicly shared via the chessboard (the SIS) had no effect on the game-state abstraction of win or lose in the players', referees' or spectators' minds.

    I understand that this but an analogy with all the shortcomings inherent therein.

    Best,

    Jay
  • edited June 2019
    And there’s ALWAYS room for, “hey we rolled this encounter/this is what the module says now, but that makes no logical sense and breaks our sense of what’s happening in the game, so we can’t accept it”, which is the Lumpley Principle in action.
    Right, like, we’ve just established a few minutes ago that The Red-Dragon Snuffing Orb has eliminated all red dragons everywhere ever, but I haven’t had a chance to alter the encounter table, but we roll encounter #4…

    …???

    You need to update the encounter table right away after using an Orb of Snuffing. That’s the rule…!

    Again, Baker/Care-Boss principle is kind of orthogonal to the issue of mistake handling, and in this case there’s been a rules mistake.

    In a Baker/Care-Boss principle game [“a game where entities become diegetically canon only when shared”] there can be mistakes, and you can handle them in different ways.

    With the Hardholder cliff fortress example I had before, saying it was on the Western side of the cliff first but then forgetting that and then saying it was on the Eastern side, you could say either: “Oh, hold on, wasn’t it on the Western side? I’m sorry, it’s on the Western side, let’s stick to that, that’s what we said first” or you could say “Oh, I just realized we’ve been saying Eastern side for a while, that makes more sense; seeing the sun rise over the barren lands, filling our vision with tiny rainbows in each of the thousand puddles of oil that dot the field.”

    In a blorb game [“a game where entities can become diegetically canon even before they are being shared”] there can be mistakes, and you can handle them in different ways.

    “Oh, I’m sorry, I forgot to update the encounter table, I’ll do that later, for now please just reroll” or you could say “A red dragon? But we used an orb of snuffing? Let’s just say it stands; the red dragon opens it’s maw to unleash it’s fiery kiss of hellfire, what do you do?”

    This particular rules mistake I haven’t seen done in my 5 years of running the game; using an Orb of Snuffing is such a momentous occasion. When Dr Strange used it [against vampires] in volume 2, #62 that was kind of a very memorable moment. Updating the encounter table is part of it’s resolution.

    However, rules mistake can always happen. Don’t feel bad. It happens often.

    I did one yesterday when I misunderstood which direction a one-way-door went.

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