Thursday, January 26, 2006

This about That

(Not all links work yet. I will fix it up when I'm not on the clock.)

Over on anyway there's been some argument about shared character ownership, and whether it's possible to make useful thematic statements with any of these.

Let's view this problem in terms of elements of exploration. When we talk about power in an RPG context, we're talking about the ability to introduce and change elements of exploration.

If you can use your ability to introduce and affect elements of exploration to help achieve your group's creative agenda, then you can be satisfied as a creator. If you can't, there is no way to be creatively satisfied. (You might be satisfied by other things, like the social interaction or the observation of other's creativity, but you won't be creatively satisfied.)

Is your ability to help achieve your group's creative agenda strictly grounded in the sole control over a protagonist (a subset of character)? No.

Is your ability to help achieve your group's creative agenda strictly grounded in sole control over any character at all? No.

Is your ability to help achieve your group's creative agenda strictly grounded in having any control over the character element of exploration? I'd venture another no.

Is it possible to have significant control over multiple elements of exploration and still not be able to help achieve your group's creative agenda? Yes.

I venture to say that it is impossible to make a direct 1-1 correspondence between control over elements of exploration and the ability to help achieve your group's creative agenda. If we're talking about different methods of controlling elements of exploration, whether or not some method will let you help fulfill your group's creative agenda is a total red herring. To address that, we need to take it in the broad context of the other rules of the game.

As far as I'm concerned, this is really basic-level stuff. What's with the hew and cry?


Blogger Marco said...

Or even other circumstances of an existing game (i.e. just knowing the other rules may not be enough).

There are many things we probably don't agree on--but this isn't one of them.


12:19 PM  
Blogger Elliot Wilen said...

Yeah, this is one area that I think falls solidly in the "of course it's possible" category.

What's holding some people back is the issue of player empowerment which is getting confused with control over "your" character, which is tied up in conceptions of RPGs. Give people the tools to provide creative input and interact through the game, and it should, in theory, be possible to have an enjoyable experience.

It might not satisfy everyone's interest in immersion or their conception of roleplaying, but that's somewhat beside the point. (It's one reason I'm not getting involved in the discussion, though--if Vincent or somebody makes a game based on these principles, I'd be happy to give it a try, but the idea doesn't really speak to my interests at this point.)

12:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The agent of a player's interaction in a game need not be a character, but there must be at least one.

I would argue that any agent of interaction which has a representation in the SIS and is primarily owned by one player will become something very like a PC, even if it isn't one to start with.

1:15 PM  
Blogger jhkim said...

Well, I'd certainly do it in a second -- but then I'm an experimental type. I'll try just about any RPG.

Vaxalon, there's room for enormous variety of story games. Are you familiar with the storytelling card game "Once Upon a Time"? One's hand of cards bears very little resemblance to a player character, in my opinion. Similarly, your position in the circle for a round-the-table storytelling has little in common with a player character.

On the other hand, Ben, what does your argument really say to the "hue and cryers"? Mostly what I saw was a few people saying, "From the sound of it, I don't think I'd like it." Seriously, maybe they're wrong about their own tastes -- but maybe they're right. I don't know. Maybe their taste in games depends on control of a particular element of exploration. Peoples' tastes depend on a lot of things. Some people really don't like science fiction games, for example, and trying to argue it with them annoys both sides.

3:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A long time ago, a lacrosse player said to his friends, "Hey, wouldn't this game be fun if we played it on ice, with skates, instead? Wow, wouldn't that be fast? I like going fast. Running isn't fast enough for me. Let's play on ice." And so they did, and it was fun.

A visitor from the other side of the mountain came by one winter and saw them playing their game. They had switched their little nets for crooked sticks, and the ball had become a flat cylinder.

"Hey, I didn't know you folks played hockey over here," he said.

"We've never heard of hockey," they said, "This is lacrosse!"

"We've been playing hockey on my side of the mountain for generations," the visitor said. "Your sticks aren't exactly the same shape, and your nets are bigger, but what you're playing is more like hockey than lacrosse. You crossed the line from lacrosse to hockey when you put on the skates."

7:59 PM  
Blogger Troy_Costisick said...


The hue and cry is over the fact that no one has ever looked at things like Setting, Situation, and Color like the way they look at Character.

Check out almost any game out there. See how characters have huge Chargen and Advancement sections. See anything like that for Setting? Where's the Setgen or Setting Advancement rules? Where's the Situation Points players have to spend to influence the way characters and setting interact?

Code of Unaris has hacking, but where are the other techniques and ephemera for changing Color in a game?

The hue and cry is over people going, "What??? You mean I can play the Setting? I can control the Color? Pshaaaw."

There are proto-games out there that allow some degree of this. Polaris and Universalis are two. But no one is approaching what Vincent is talking about IMHO yet.



8:43 PM  
Blogger Bankuei said...

Fred -- you're babbling. Vincent's suggestion to take a few days away from the discussion would be really healthy -- not just on anyway, but here, too.

Troy -- We already have reasonably sophisticated SitGen. I think the rest will come in time.


2:44 AM  
Blogger Bankuei said...

Just to note- I'm hanging out with Ben, and he's using my computer- he accidentally posted using my account above.


5:10 AM  
Blogger Fred said...

Ben, it has been more than a few days, and I stand by my parable.

3:57 AM  

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