Sunday, October 16, 2005

Introduction to Forge Theory #4

Introduction to Forge Theory #4

Rules and what they do

Okay, so. So far we've established a little bit about the goals of the essay, plus a definition of good and bad rules, and also a definition of what rules (and system) are. Now, finally, we're set up to talk about what rules do, by which I mean how we use them to effect our play.

(This whole thing is cribbed, pretty much direct, from Vincent Baker's essay over here. Frankly, you'd probably be better of just reading him. I even stole his little diagram.)

What the rules do, during play, is that the coordinate interaction of three different things: the fiction (also called the shared imagined space or SIS), which is the totality of what we are imagining; the cues, which are all the non-human, non-thinking things in the real world that we use to inform our play -- dice, cards, chips, setting material, character sheets, knowledge of physics, whatever; and (most importantly), the players, which is just us sitting around a table, or on couches, or whatever.

Fiction Us Cues

So let's say that I say "my character walks into the room." What happens is that I, the person, say that, and we all imagine my character walking into the room. There has been a link between us, the players, and the fiction of play. A rule was used to link these two things -- this rule, in particular, is probably something like "Ben gets to say what his character does."

That process looks like this.

Fiction <------> Us Cues

Okay, that was pretty simple. Let's look at another simple rule. Let's say that I roll a die, it shows an unsatisfactory resolut, and then I say "I'm spending a hero point" and I roll again, probably tossing some chip away or writing something down on my character sheet. What has just happened here? Well, there was a connection between me, the player, and the cues (in this case, a die and a hero point.) The rule that coordinated this interaction might look something like this: "You can spend a hero point to reroll a die." Note that, during the entire interaction, we didn't effect the fiction at all -- I didn't even tell you why I was rolling the die!

That rule looks like this

Fiction Us <------> Cues

(Aside: There are lots of totally awesome games -- Chess and Go come to mind -- which consist entirely of this type of rule. Role-playing games, of course, have some sort of fiction by definition, I'd just like to note that not every game does.)

Now, let's look at a different rules interaction. The GM says "The orc hits you! Take 5 damage." I say "Oh no, my character is at 0 hit points, so my character falls over."

The first statement, ruleswise, looks like this

Fiction <-------- Us Cues

In other words, the GM makes a statement about the fiction, the fiction then changes the cues.

And the second statement looks like this.

Fiction Us Cues

And, when it comes my turn again, I can't act 'cause my guy's knocked over.

Fiction --------> Us Cues

Now, do you notice that when the fiction affects the cues via a rule, or when the cues affect the fiction via a rule, I draw the arrow so that it runs right by "us?" That isn't an accident. Simply put, the players of the game have to put the rule into effect for it to have any affect at all. For instance, in the prior example, it requires me subtracting the hit points, realizing that I was at zero, and invoking the falling over rule.

So we have these six arrows

Fiction <------> Us <------> Cues

and we're saying that all rules can be classified into a combination of these arrows. Essentially, we can picture the rules as arrows in the diagram, moving information between us, our fiction, and our cues. At least, that's how I like to see it.

And that, in short, is the lumpley principle in its extended form. Congratulations! This is the half-way point of the theory -- there are two major pieces of theory that I'm introducing in this essay and we've completed one of them.

Now is when I ask -- does this make sense to everyone? And, usually, I take some questions in the terms of a lecture. One of the fortunate accidents of blog format is that I can do the same thing here. So -- any questions? Does this make sense?

Stay tuned for the next part, when we're going to delve into the Big Model, a somewhat more complex way of looking at the process of play.


Blogger Adam Dray said...

Will you be referring to the Fiction Us Cues paradigm as the FUC model?

2:13 AM  
Blogger Joshua BishopRoby said...

I'd make clear exactly what the arrow constitutes before you start using it repeatedly. I think it represents 'this thing is acting on this thing' so it's more a relational sign rather than a substantial sign (where the arrow 'is' something itself).

3:25 AM  
Blogger Ron Edwards said...

Um, I think you have a typo at one point, where you say that the ways we draw it ARE different in terms of content (the typo), but are only really different as presentation (the non-typo).

12:10 PM  
Blogger Ron Edwards said...

Fuck! I totally posted the above comment to the wrong blog topic.

12:12 PM  
Blogger Ben said...

Adam -- No.

Joshua -- The arrow is the rule. If the rule is coordinating interaction between A and B, it runs from A to B.

Ron -- Yes. Thanks for pointing it out. I'll fix that.

12:12 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home