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Samurai Jill
2008-12-01, 10:09 AM
Pretentious Intro
I just thought I should make some effort to clear up a little bit of confusion on the topic of Gamist, Narrativist and Simulationist playing modes, and exactly what they mean in the context of play. Each style of play represents a different creative agenda- a top-most priority for the group in play, and there's a lot of terminology involved (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/articles/27/), mos' of which I've skimmed over for the sake of brevity. For now I'm just hoping to give a broad overview of the key concepts for your perusal.

Gamism: The defining feature of Gamism is competition- whether against other players, or external adversaries supplied at regular intervals during play (typically by the GM.) Contrary to the maxim that winning and losing don't apply to role-play, Gamism is explicitly all about setting win and loss conditions- albeit localised, short-term ones- during play.

What is important to and enjoyable about Gamism? Enjoyment in gamism comes from the satisfaction of mastering diverse tactical options to maximise advantage over your opponents and/or among fellow players. Balance between these options is therefore vital to enjoyable gamist play- but 'balance' itself can have several meanings. 'Balance' might mean equality in starting resources for each character- in which case, finding 'optimised builds' itself becomes an arena of competition- or it may mean that tactical options available to a given character are all equally viable. Or, it may mean that characters advance in power and influence at an equal rate over time- the purpose of all these is to ensure that all players have an equal opportunity to 'step on up' and win bragging rights during a conflict. This is not to say that teamwork is unimportant in gamism, but if so you are judged by your ability to contribute, which in itself is a kind of competition.
Gamism, at it's best, is straightforward and sportsmanlike group fun.

Gamism Is Not: Merely providing your characters with challenges or adversity now and then- some form of difficulty or problem-solving is inherent in any 'game'. In Gamism, however, it's the whole point, rather than a means to other ends, such as dramatic tension or opening further areas for exploration.

What are the potential downsides of Gamism? Dysfunction in gamism generally results when the drive to compete eats away suspension of disbelief in favour of naked personal ambition at others' expense. There are four classic forms of this dysfunction (quite separate from basic personality defects) known collectively as The Hard Core.
Turnin'- Players cease cooperating meaningfully toward long-term goals and instead turn upon eachother as the only engaging opponents available. This is quite distinct from gamist play which explicitly supports and encourages interplayer conflict. Turning can be avoided by rewarding teamwork and providing meaningful loss conditions against secondary adversaries- otherwise, there's little incentive to stick together.
Powergaming- The reward mechanisms of play result in an ever-escalating spiral of character effectiveness that eventually reaches nonsensical heights. Powergaming may not be a problem provided all players are aboard for the ride and benefit equally from such escalation, but it leads to risks of Breaking The Game. Powergaming can be avoided through hard limits on character effectiveness and progression feedback, whether explicit or mechanically implied.
Calvinball- Essentially, rules-lawyering for personal gain- twisting ambiguity or inconsistency to make up the rules as you go, all under the pretence of commitment to exploration.
Breaking The Game- This means finding weak points of imbalance or absurdity within the rules framework which can be exploited to yield insurmountable advantage without variation in tactics, thus rendering the creative agenda nonsensical.
While the first two forms of Hard Core play can be functional under the right circumstances, Calvinball and Breaking are helpful only insofar as they make the weaknesses of a rule set obvious. The only reliable defence against either is elegance and consistency, from the ground up, eliminating all mathematical ratios, recursions and break points by design. Patch rules simply introduce further points of vulnerability to exploit.

I also need to acknowledge that a bored Gamist-inclined player, seeing no engaging Challenge, has been known, on occasion, to turn his attention toward the Hard Core, specifically Turnin' and Breaking the game. If it's clear that the other individuals don't appreciate this, and if he or she continues, then what's happened is the Birth of a Prick that some better understanding of contrasting GNS goals might have prevented. I used to see this all the time in Champions groups, and it's horrible.

Gamism- Step On Up (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/articles/21/)


Simulationism: The defining feature of Simulationism is accuracy and faithfulness to some externally-defined 'reality'. Notable forms include Purist-for-System- the search for a generic, highly realistic rule set that can capture the salient nuances of physical interaction and skill progression across a wide variety of scales and contexts- and High-Concept simulationism, which simply aims to recreate the conventions of a particular genre. Simulationism isn't expressly concerned with larger, overriding agendas, such as victory or storyline- if they happen along the way, that's nice- but the primary objective is the strict enforcement of internal cause-and-consequence in an impartial fashion.

What is important to and enjoyable about Simulationism? Enjoyment in simulationist play essentially comes from the pure abstract pleasure of faithful abstraction- finding generalisations that usefully predict given aspects of the world and allow you recreate a working model of it within your heads. It's the joy of unbiased understanding as manifested by rules which help keep the group on the same page. It's not necessarily limited to just the rules of in-game physics- individual personalities and collective political entities can also be modelled with the same attention to detail. And this isn't to say that personal choice can't affect the larger world- but the parameters of choice and consequence are strictly cordoned off to preclude violation of the basic tenet of accuracy. Simulationist play is often willing to accept involved and complex rule resolution, together with very detailed and comprehensive rule sets and settings, so that the parameters of play are well-understood beforehand and allow internal cause/effect to reign unchallenged. Metagame mechanics- by definition external to the world's cause and consequence- are generally anathema to simulationist play.

Simulationism Is Not: Merely having detailed and complex rules- these might not accurately model any external system, and conversely, certain external models can be reproduced with relatively simple rules. Nor is it just trying to avoid abstraction- in order to role-play at all, recognisable elements to grasp on to in play are needed, but in simulationism accuracy is the whole point, rather than a means to other ends, such as ambience or suspension of disbelief.

What are the potential downsides of Simulationism? Simulationism's weakness is that, in essence, it's appeal is limited strictly to those who seek 'the right to dream' for it's own sake- there's no other payoff in terms of narrative coherence or friendly competition, and the price it demands is often extortionate. Players who aren't 100% committed to the- highly specific- expectations of play from the beginning will often find such stiff rule sets to be stifling and baroque. A more generic system can help open more options for the player, but only at the cost of even-more-elaborate rules-consultation- and more than this, Purist-For-System simulationist design in particular is really, really, hard to do, quite aside from the work it demands of the players. Rules-bloat and excess bookkeeping are a constant hazard. But are more insidious threats-
Illusionism- Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain: Simulationist GMs rarely overtly railroad, as that betrays the implied agreement that 'internal cause is king'- but in order to impose an overall storyline, will frequently employ illusionism- in essence, the artificial manipulation of likelihood and external adversity (or Force) to give the superficial impression of player freedom when their characters are actually being funnelled toward predefined conclusions. If other players consent to this, then there's no problem, and the only alternative may well be...
Ouija-board Role-Play: This is the opposite extreme, where neither the GM or the players have any overall direction for story development at all. Essentially, it's illusionism perpetrated by the players upon themselves, as at any given time somebody is guiding the planchette, but no-one is allowed is make an explicit mission-statement to that effect. The result is an unfocused meandering from event to event without development or resolution.
The Bitterest Role-Player In The World: If Ouija-board role-play is the hope that narrativism can emerge from simulation without overt effort, then the bitterest role-player in the world expects gamism to just 'emerge', organically, from pure simulation (note- this is actually taken from the Gamism essay):

This man (I've met no women who fit this description) is cursed. He's cursed because the only people who can enjoy playing with him, and vice versa, are those who share precisely his goals, and these goals are very easily upset by just about any others.

*- His heavy Sim focus keeps away the "lite" Gamists who like Exploration but not Simulationism.
*- The lack of metagame reward system keeps away most Gamists in general.
*- Hard Core Gamists will kick him in the nuts every time, just as they do to Simulationist play.
*- Most Simulationist-oriented players won't Step Up - they get no gleam in their eye when the Challenge hits, and some are even happy just to piddle about and "be."
*- Just about anyone who's not Gamist-inclined lumps him with "those Gamists" and writes him off.

I've known several of these guys. They are bitter, I say. Imagine years of just knowing that your "perfect game" is possible, seeing it in your mind, knowing that if only a few other people could just play their characters exactly according to the values that you yourself would play, that your GM-preparation would pay off beyond anyone's wildest dreams. Now imagine years of encountering all the bulleted points above, over and over.
Simulationism- The Right To Dream (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/articles/15/)


Narrativism: Confusingly, this style of play actually has relatively little to do with narration per se. The defining feature of narrativist play is addressing a particular premise- a similar question posed to all the players that, when answered, reveals something about their characters- everything else is just a means to that end. Good narrativist play is defined by the extent to which a transcript of such play reveals an underlying story, and the whole purpose of play is to construct that story as you go.

What is important to and enjoyable about Narrativism? Enjoyment of narrativist play comes from protagonism- the sense that you are a central player in the story with true power to reflect meaningfully on a particular theme through your actions. This collaborative address of an underlying 'premise' has several implications- firstly, no one person can dictate the outcome of the story- each character must be free to give different responses, and to have those answers' consequences expressed honestly within events.

I REPEAT: NO ONE PERSON CAN BE IN CHARGE OF DIRECTING THE STORY.
I REPEAT: THE CONSISTENT ADDRESS OF PREMISE- A SINGLE THEMATIC QUESTION WHICH EACH PLAYER CAN ANSWER DIFFERENTLY- IS A NECCESSARY UNIFYING FACTOR IN NARRATIVIST PLAY.

Secondly, the parameters of scene or outcome resolution are often deliberately loose, with relatively simple, streamlined rules dedicated to modelling highly specific situations that convey a strong premise- "How much are you willing to sacrifice for power?", "What are you willing to kill for?", or "Does individual expression outweigh social needs?" etc, etc. This reflects the fact that many narrativists are often impatient with elaborate rule-consultation, so that any degree of verisimilitude requires specialisation in order to keep complexity manageable. Heavy metagame mechanics are often employed to ration influence over the storyline directly, and specific task resolution is usually abandoned in favour of conflict resolution- each player decides what's 'at stake' whenever interests are at odds, and the 'winner' imposes their version of events, often after the dice are rolled.

Narativism Is Not: Merely 'having a story' OR 'having no predefined story', nor is does it simply mean having lots of emphasis on description or character definition OR a rules-lite system (though these may help.) Every RPG will have a transcript of events from play, but in narrativism, shaping events to reveal an underlying theme is the whole point to play, rather than the story being a means to other ends, such as party coherence or homage to genre convention.

What are the potential downsides of Narrativism? The lack of specific, detailed enforcement of cause-effect guidelines, initiative or authority can leave Narrativist systems prone to abuse by (or simply uninteresting to) those who can't buy into the given premise. But that is at least easily spotted- more troubling is the prospect of bullying by other players who genuinely do buy into the premise-

The non-GM version is the Prima Donna, a devoted Premise-addresser - but what he can't do is share. If a given scene is not about the issue that he cares about, he disrupts things until it is. If his character is present in a scene, then he'll demand center stage until forcibly stopped. He understands protagonism, but won't permit anyone else to have it. Essentially, he's the equivalent of the Hard Core Gamist, but with a significant difference: only one person can do it successfully; it can't even spread through the group. Prima Donnas are obnoxious, selfish, and pushy. Their typical fate is to be removed from a group or to become its GM (often to the present GM's consternation), in which latter case to become a Typhoid Mary.

What's a Typhoid Mary? Well may you ask. It's a would-be Narrativist GM who uses tons of Force upon the player-characters. He introduces the Premise and is emotionally invested in how the players are supposed to address it, to the extent that he makes their characters' significant decisions for them. Effectively, this means the other people are present only to praise and reflect the GM's ego. Play amounts to "we tell the story, but I'm writing it" - he continually demands that the players appreciate his Narrativist aesthetic, but suppresses the same aesthetic in their behavior. He prioritizes and insists upon Premise-addressing input yet makes it subject to his approval.

Such play is appallingly unrewarding and is rightly labeled railroading. To sustain it, the Typhoid Mary must exert primary dominance over all aspects of the Social Contract, which is usually not possible among adults. I can think of no more effective means of ensuring that other people never role-play again, than encountering a Typhoid Mary. Also, unsurprisingly, get one Narrativist player with a spine in that game, and it's root hog or die, the worst Force-vs.-Narrativist duel possible - such conflicts have been known to disrupt romances, friendships, and even jobs and marriages.

Narrativism- Story Now (http://www.indie-rpgs.com/_articles/narr_essay.html)


Why The Heck Does GNS Matter?
GNS theory essentially states that these three modes of play do not easily mix.

Here I suggest that RPG system design cannot meet all three outlooks at once. For example, how long does it take to resolve a game action in real time? The simulationist accepts delay as long as it enhances accuracy; the narrativist hates delay; the gamist only accepts delay or complex methods if they can be exploited. Or, what constitutes success? The narrativist demands a resolution be dramatic, but the gamist wants to know who came out better off than the next guy. Or, how should player-character effectiveness be "balanced"? The narrativist doesn't care, the simulationist wants it to reflect the game-world's social system, and the gamist simply demands a fair playing field.

In short, GNS theory constitutes a kind of psychological profiling of player preferences- because, even in cases where a particular player is capable of enjoying more than one style of play, it seems that the human mind has an inherent tendency to 'shift gears' toward one mode or another at any given time, depending on what the rules of a given game seem to emphasise. And herein lies the problem- a game that emphasises, in terms of either fluff or crunch- more than one mode of play leads to either conflicted player expectations within the group, or time wasted as a particular a group culls whatever rules do not complement it's aims.

Narrativist-Gamist Conflict:
Conflict between gamism and narrativism most frequently arises because of their structural simularity: both revolve around expectations of active contribution by other players in order to shape unfolding events, but their arenas are very different: in gamism, it's the length of a bout, and the payoff is victory- in narrativism, it's the length of a story, and the payoff is thematic unity. However, at any given moment in play, each agenda might demand very different responses.

Let's say that characters A and B are in the middle of a dungeon crawl. A happens to be hopelessly smitten with love for B, will not directly compete with her for resources, and will favour her preferentially for tactical support. That is the players response to underlying premise, and being asked to compromise this decision for the sake of tactical efficiency is deprotagonisation by peer pressure.

The effect of this is that gamism and narrativism don't mix- groups just peacefully go one way or the other.

Narrativist-Simulationist Conflict
Detailed pre-play character creation helps to establish a given PC's concrete skills and capabilities, thus supporting depiction of what they can realistically achieve when applying themselves to particular tasks. A detailed, comprehensive and conflict-rich setting has the effect of constraining the circumstances under which a character can realistically employ their talents. Both these features compliment the simulationist creative agenda of ensuring fidelity to genre convention, but narrativism demands flexibility in the address of premise, and this benefits from freedom to establish elements of both during play. Consequently, ensuring absolute fidelity to simulationist priorities will inevitably undercut the narrativist creative agenda.

As a more general observation, many narrativist players are impatient with elaborate and complex rules-consultation or dice mechanics, which are the precise things required to accurately mechanise many settings' idiom for combat, diplomacy, stealth, etc. Narrativist players like to be able to fill in mechanical blanks to suit thematic purposes, but simulationist players like a degree of assurance that what is being described is uniformly plausible within the parameters of the external model. Here, again, narrativism and simulationism are frequently at odds.

Simulationist-Gamist Conflict:
Image that you're trying to develop an RPG based on Ursula K. le Guin's Earthsea series. There are vast differences in the respective capabilities of normal humans, human wizards, and dragons, all of whom feature prominently in 'adventuring parties' within this setting, and the simulationist agenda mandates that you represent them faithfully based on the author's description. The gamist agenda, however, requires balanced and varied tactical options be available to each member of the party, which is simply not remotely compatible with being able to recreate the types of story associated with the setting.

Alternatively, consider what happens when an arrow genuinely comes crashing down and lodges in your entrails- assuming you don't die instantly, septic shock will probably get you within the week. How likely is it that skill and equipment alone can reliably shield you against such hazards in combat?- not nearly well enough to make for a viable long-term campaign. In order to service the gamist agenda, you must distort realism, thus undermining the simulationist agenda.


Is 'outright hybridisation' of the GNS modes possible? The short answer is No. The longer answer is that it is sometimes possible to have another mode present purely as support for another, and dominant, GNS mode. The longest answer?-

*- Simulationism can work very well as a 'support mode' for gamism- that is, fidelity to realism or genre expectations whenever this does not conflict with balanced tactical competition, which is dominant.
*- Simulationism can also work as a support mode for narrativism, (though there are not many successful examples of this.) It basically requires temporary lulls in the address of premise so you can get down to the gritty business of calculation, but the metagame benefits of addressing premise must remain dominant.
*- Neither gamism nor narrativism work well as 'support modes' for simulationism, because they tend to be more psychologically compelling, and eventually take over- Gamism, in particular, is probably the single most 'primal' of the three modes and any policy of appeasement is a recipe for disaster-

The common reaction to this easy transition, for non-Gamist-inclined players, is pure terror- it's the Monsters from the Id!
...so either commit to gamism, or don't.
*- Gamism and narrativism, for reasons already touched upon, don't mix, but neither do they result in outright acrimony if the text is confused on this point. Some groups and player which do employ regular compeition, but not railroading or illusionism, are under the mistaken impression that this is equivalent to gamist-narrativism, but it isn't: the consistent address of premise is needed to give shape to events, or all you have is gamism attached onto Ouija-Board Role-Play.

Darrin
2008-12-01, 11:03 AM
Usual Disclaimer: It is certainly possible to have players who are capable of enjoying more than one mode of play. What you can't do is have two or more of these modes firing on all cylinders at the same time. Also, in practice, many, if not most, players do tend to gravitate to a particular mode above and beyond the others, so that RPG design should still bear in mind an intended audience.


First, a much shorter, more workable definition of:

"GNS Theory", n.: A small kernal of insightful and possibly useful structural analysis of role-playing games burried inside a supermassive black hole of recriminations, egomaniacal grandstanding, and pedantic wankery.

Second, I'm not sure I understand your purpose for starting this thread... are you just summarizing for general education purposes, are you asking some kind of question or looking for answers on a particular problem, or just generating another black hole because the forum somehow managed to skip the monthly "Do monks suck?" thread?

Almost all GNS threads are inherently circular. They produce a prodigious amount of text on why it might be important to analyse how RPGs work from a philosophical framework, but after a few dozen posts they quickly reach the point where the only purpose of the discussion is to justify and maintain the discussion, rather than lead to any meaningful products of analysis.

However, I did find your explanation of "support modes" interesting, as it has some similarities with my own "Pick Two" design philosophy (stolen from John Wick, who stole it from an L5R cosplay seamstress.) Designing anything functional requires three elements, but you can only pick two at the expense of the third.

For costumes: Pretty, Fast, Cheap.
For software: Stability, Security, Usability.
For RPGs: Gamist, Narrativist, Simulationist.

Grey Paladin
2008-12-01, 11:17 AM
Great primer.

While I agree with the core idea, I find it ridiculous that a given game cannot 'serve two masters'- a game can (and in most cases, does) cover all three aspects. a game can only focus upon one primary motivation at any instance, but morphs freely.

Saph
2008-12-01, 11:53 AM
Interesting read.

However, after reading through, I have to say that pretty much everything in this section:


Why The Heck Does GNS Matter?

is wrong. GNS theory doesn't matter; you can manage just fine without it, and the vast majority of good DMs do. While there are some good insights there, there's also an awful lot of wall-of-text talking for the sake of talking which isn't really any help at all.

As for the either/or idea:


The reason why GNS matters is because you cannot serve two masters. The fundamental distinction between these modes is the payoff you expect from play, i.e, it's a reflection of player priorities. Failing to recognise a clear hierarchy of such priorities results in RPG design that is either abashed (i.e, salvageable through house rules) or incoherent (-i.e, not so much.)

. . .

Is 'outright hybridisation' of the GNS modes possible? The short answer is No. The longer answer is that it is sometimes possible to have another mode present purely as support for another, and dominant, GNS mode.

. . . every successful campaign I've seen has contained elements of all three of the modes you're talking about; enough game to be challenging, enough simulation to give the feel of a world, enough narrative to let the players feel like protagonists of their own story.

Now, I'm sure a GNS devotee could quiz me about the details of those games and say, "Well, obviously that was a G/N/Sist game, with maybe some elements of S/G/Nism, but you're clearly mistaken in thinking that it had anything to do with N/S/Gism." The question becomes, though: who cares? Sure, you can fit anything into a model if you're willing to chop enough bits off. The question is whether what's left is going to be any use to anybody.

So far I've found GNS analysis to be over-theoretical and of very limited value, although it does generate some good discussions.

- Saph

Satyr
2008-12-01, 12:38 PM
The whole theory construction may be a neat intelectual practice, but for the actual game, it is an immense and crippling trap.
At first, the whole breakup into different and disparate gaming styles is bith limiting and creates uneccessary and counterproductive disruptions between players; if you include the stupid and often completely arbitrary categorisation of people into one of these arbitrary pigeonwholes that create the foundation of the whole theory, you have a great way to disrupt gaming groups or establish artificial boundaries.

The whole theory is based on one central assumption, which is not only completely subjective but also - if you ask me - completely wrong. This assummtion is that any of the more or less arbitrarily defined modes as central components that are contradicting each other. This leads to the assumotion that a game should be clearly belingeing into one of the hthree modes or else it would become dysfubctional.
And this is the black whole of all traps in Roleplaying Games. Good campaings are not specilised. Good games combine the better effects and elements of all game styles and combine them to a greater synthesis. The good game is were Edward's game modes overlap, not were they differentiate. A good set of rule is flexible and adaptable and can be formed into the specific wishes and imagination of each specific gaming group. The rules adapt to the game and the individual campaign, not vice versa. Systems that were developed under the impression of this whole GNS baggage are unable to do so, as they try to fit especially into one specific genre and moot; they are like coala bears specifically suited only for one single kind of eucalyptus and bound to fail horribly when facing any variation, which also paves over individual adaptation.

The pseudo-intelectual terms and writing style makes it even worse as it creates an atmosphere of academic justification and scienitfic argumentation which distribute a certain argumentative authority; and there are enough peole who fall for this lure of academic argumentation, asociating it with research and proof.

Samurai Jill
2008-12-01, 01:49 PM
"GNS Theory", n.: A small kernal of insightful and possibly useful structural analysis of role-playing games burried inside a supermassive black hole of recriminations, egomaniacal grandstanding, and pedantic wankery...
Second, I'm not sure I understand your purpose for starting this thread... are you just summarizing for general education purposes, are you asking some kind of question or looking for answers on a particular problem, or just generating another black hole because the forum somehow managed to skip the monthly "Do monks suck?" thread?
Well, primer mostly, but at least it's a change...

I like to think that GNS sort of emerged as the kernel of wisdom from said black hole, rather than being the source of it. But that's just me.


While I agree with the core idea, I find it ridiculous that a given game cannot 'serve two masters'- a game can (and in most cases, does) cover all three aspects. a game can only focus upon one primary motivation at any instance, but morphs freely.
Insofar as the modes are defined as 'what is your topmost priority', not really. A top priority is a top priority. Having two top priorities simply means you will serve both ineffectively/indecisively during design.


...is wrong. GNS theory doesn't matter; you can manage just fine without it, and the vast majority of good DMs do.
Again, I'd like to quote from another source (
http://www.indie-rpgs.com/articles/6/):

It may fairly be asked, how can GNS be applied to design features, when few if any RPG designers know about it, or even care? I use a physics analogy: prior to the insights of Newtonian physics, bridges could be built. Some of them were built rather well. However, in retrospect, we are well aware that in order to build the bridge, the designer must have been at the very least according with Newtonian physics through (1) luck, (2) imitation of something else that worked, (3) use of principles that did not conflict with Newtonian physics in a way that mattered for the job, or (4) a non-articulated understanding of those principles. I consider the analogy to be exact for role-playing games.

. . . every successful campaign I've seen has contained elements of all three of the modes you're talking about; enough game to be challenging, enough simulation to give the feel of a world, enough narrative to let the players feel like protagonists of their own story.
Here, I think, a crucial distinction needs to be made- feeling like a protagonist and actually being a protagonist are different things. Players may feel as if their input is relevant to story even when it isn't, as long as the GM employs covert illusionism (or at least railroads with restraint.)

Sure, you can fit anything into a model if you're willing to chop enough bits off. The question is whether what's left is going to be any use to anybody.
The distinction is still relevant because it forces you to ask what your priorities in play are. Is accuracy your top priority, followed by competition as a close second, with storyline a distant third? Is storyline your priority with accuracy an entirely secondary goal? Are competition and storyline "equally important" to you? Some of those can work well, some of them will need to be customised during play, and some of them fail flat-out.

GNS theory is relevant because it has predictive power- If the priorities the rules express are incoherent, play cannot become coherent without changing those rules, in which case those rules are wasting players' time.

But I'd like to thank each of you, in any case, for highlighting possible areas of confusion where I should communicate things better. So, my bad.

AKA_Bait
2008-12-01, 02:34 PM
Having two top priorities simply means you will serve both ineffectively/indecisively during design.

This is the claim that needs better defending. Why does 'x is not a top priority' or 'x and y are equally important' mean that x or y must be ineffectivley or indecisivley served?



GNS theory is relevant because it has predictive power- If the priorities the rules express are incoherent, play cannot become coherent without changing those rules, in which case those rules are wasting players' time.

I'm not sure what this means. What is the predictive power of GNS? What does it predict in a falsifiable manner?

Saph
2008-12-01, 02:38 PM
It may fairly be asked, how can GNS be applied to design features, when few if any RPG designers know about it, or even care? I use a physics analogy: prior to the insights of Newtonian physics, bridges could be built. Some of them were built rather well. However, in retrospect, we are well aware that in order to build the bridge, the designer must have been at the very least according with Newtonian physics through (1) luck, (2) imitation of something else that worked, (3) use of principles that did not conflict with Newtonian physics in a way that mattered for the job, or (4) a non-articulated understanding of those principles. I consider the analogy to be exact for role-playing games.

This is amazing hubris. Ron Edwards is seriously comparing his pet theory in gaming to Newtonian physics in the natural sciences? I've heard stories of this guy's ego, but . . .

Here's an alternative and much simpler explanation: perhaps few if any RPG designers or GMs know or care about GNS theory because GNS theory just isn't all that useful?


The distinction is still relevant because it forces you to ask what your priorities in play are. Is accuracy your top priority, followed by competition as a close second, with storyline a distant third? Is storyline your priority with accuracy an entirely secondary goal? Are competition and storyline "equally important" to you?

So the distinction is relevant because it forces you to think in terms of GNS theory? But the whole point is that I'm not convinced that thinking in terms of GNS theory is particularly productive in the first place. If someone comes up to me while I'm planning my next session and demands to know "Is accuracy, competition, or storyline your first priority?", my honest answer, if I'm not concerned about being polite, is going to be "I don't care."


GNS theory is relevant because it has predictive power- If the priorities the rules express are incoherent, play cannot become coherent without changing those rules, in which case those rules are wasting players' time.

I think you need a track record of verified and reliable predictions before you can claim predictive power. I've seen GNS theory generate a whole lot of discussion, but very few quantifiable predictions.

- Saph

RPGuru1331
2008-12-01, 02:41 PM
This is the claim that needs better defending. Why does 'x is not a top priority' or 'x and y are equally important' mean that x or y must be ineffectivley or indecisivley served?

I know this one, though I consider GNS Theory to merely be a very useful tool in identifying motives, and nothing more (It's a worthless model, because it predicts nothing)

Choices are going to have to be made, if you don't choose Narrativism and Gamism. Simulationism doesn't play that well with others, because realism generally gets in the way of good stories, or to say the least, makes them exponentially harder to tell, and realism plays with game mechanics like vinegar plays with salt; That's why DnD pretends it's simulationist, but has peasant rail guns that deal 1d2+Str. damage. If you don't pick a top priority, things start getting mucked up after a few mishmashed decisions. Perhaps realism takes over for the Peasant Rail Gun's damage, but that still leaves the fact that moving the pig at super speed required gamist abuses, to continue with the one metaphor.

Kiero
2008-12-01, 02:42 PM
I've said it before, and I'll say it again. I have little truck with GNS, because it's really just about Ron's own preferences. First he started with defining thing in games he liked, and called that Narrativism. Then he went about defining all the stuff he doesn't like, and called that Gamism.

Then he was left with a whole bunch of stuff that didn't fit either category, but couldn't be ignored. So he clumsily lumped them all together, and called it Simulationism.

Thing that bothers me most about it - there's nothing under any of the three types that actually appeals to me.

RPGuru1331
2008-12-01, 02:46 PM
I've said it before, and I'll say it again. I have little truck with GNS, because it's really just about Ron's own preferences. First he started with defining thing in games he liked, and called that Narrativism. Then he went about defining all the stuff he doesn't like, and called that Gamism.

Then he was left with a whole bunch of stuff that didn't fit either category, but couldn't be ignored. So he clumsily lumped them all together, and called it Simulationism.

Thing that bothers me most about it - there's nothing under any of the three types that actually appeals to me.

I believe you have that backwards; Ron Edwards declares things he doesn't like simulationist. Hence, World of Darkness. Which really just tells me he can't read his own definitions. The definitions themselves are fine, Ron Edwards is just a tool who doesn't know what they are.

Samurai Jill
2008-12-01, 02:53 PM
This is the claim that needs better defending. Why does 'x is not a top priority' or 'x and y are equally important' mean that x or y must be ineffectivley or indecisivley served?...
I'm not sure what this means. What is the predictive power of GNS? What does it predict in a falsifiable manner?
These questions are closely related.

Let's just take the case of simulationism and gamism.
Imagine that you're trying to recreate the world of Tolkien. The simulationist agenda mandates that you must faithfully represent wizards, elves and dunedain as intrinsically superior to lesser mortals. By contrast, the gamist agenda requires that all player-characters have an equally viable array of tactical options available to them- this is not compatible with lesser mortals being slower, stupider or weaker than wizards, elves, and dunedain. You could attempt to balance the racial options available by hobbling the stronger races with level adjustments, fewer resources or onerous restrictions on how their powers may be employed. However, neither is likely to go far enough, the former violates simulationism as a explicit metagame mechanic, and the latter encourages Calvinball play with players seeking loopholes in their arbitrary codes of conduct.

If you wish the tactical options of all races to be equally viable, without dysfunction, then you must relegate simulationism to a secondary and subordinate role. Conversely, if you wish the game to be entirely faithful to Tolkien's representation, you must abandon gamism. There's no way around it. That's the prediction- go prove me wrong.

RPGuru1331
2008-12-01, 02:59 PM
If you wish the tactical options of all races to be equally viable, without dysfunction, then you must relegate simulationism to a secondary and subordinate role. Conversely, if you wish the game to be entirely faithful to Tolkien's representation, you must abandon gamism. There's no way around it. That's the prediction- go prove me wrong.

Bad proof; Conceivably, you could simply say the only allowable options are Dwarves, Elves, Dunedain, and Wizards. Remember, you said 'allowable tactical options', and nothing mandates the PCs to be ordinary mortals.

AKA_Bait
2008-12-01, 03:02 PM
Choices are going to have to be made, if you don't choose Narrativism and Gamism. Simulationism doesn't play that well with others, because realism generally gets in the way of good stories, or to say the least, makes them exponentially harder to tell, and realism plays with game mechanics like vinegar plays with salt;

This still doesn't show any necessary connection between diminishment to the point of failure and limitation of goals to only one GNS option (which is probably part and parcel of why there isn't really any predictive power to the theory).

It may or may not be useful in picking out motivations for why particular mechanics are the way they are in any given system. Personally, if that is all it's good for... I could care less. What a system is good at stands separatley in terms of my desire to use it from the intentions of its creators. In other words, I don't care what the designers wanted to the system to do. I care what the system actually does in practice.


Bad proof; Conceivably, you could simply say the only allowable options are Dwarves, Elves, Dunedain, and Wizards. Remember, you said 'allowable tactical options', and nothing mandates the PCs to be ordinary mortals.

That is exactly what I was about to write. Alternativley, you can also say that none of those races are 'player races' and everyone must be a hobbit.

Samurai Jill
2008-12-01, 03:12 PM
Bad proof; Conceivably, you could simply say the only allowable options are Dwarves, Elves, Dunedain, and Wizards. Remember, you said 'allowable tactical options', and nothing mandates the PCs to be ordinary mortals.
Simulationism does! You have four halflings + Boromir accompanying the main party, along with plenty of other examples of significant human characters in Tolkien's work- you can't just arbitrarily exclude the viable possibility of such party members offhand without violating the simulationist creative agenda. There's no compelling IC reason for excluding such characters right off the bat, and in simulationism, internal cause is king.

RPGuru1331
2008-12-01, 03:18 PM
This still doesn't show any necessary connection between diminishment to the point of failure and limitation of goals to only one theory (which is probably part and parcel of why there isn't really any predictive power to the theory).
Oh, it doesn't. It weakens the final product, but it doesn't necessarily equate to the failure of the game (Granted, the only wishy washy systems I've seen, I consider failures). And you don't have to limit yourself to one goal, you simply have to acknowledge priorities. There's a difference between "Priorities" and "Utter mutual exclusion". For instance, you can make the most interesting story path the most mechanically appealing (Either by making it the easiest to beat, or by making it the greatest mechanical challenge)


It may or may not be useful in picking out motivations for why particular mechanics are the way they are in any given system. Personally, if that is all it's good for... I could care less. What a system is good at stands separatley in terms of my desire to use it from the intentions of its creators. In other words, I don't care what the designers wanted to the system to do. I care what the system actually does in practice.
In most systems, the two are actually pretty close together, because the designers actually did their jobs. Identifying the traits, if not the labels, can make your search for a new system or player faster. I for one am going to drop a system that is attempting to simulate reality. I simply couldn't care less, and there's too much else I could use with less kitbashing. Similarly, a player who's crazy insane about totally immersive gameplay is of no interest to me, as is a GM who wants similar.




That is exactly what I was about to write. Alternativley, you can also say that none of those races are 'player races' and everyone must be a hobbit.
Well, with hobbits it might be fun. If you say they're all humans, it would probably be boring :smallbiggrin:

AKA_Bait
2008-12-01, 03:19 PM
Simulationism does! You have four halflings + Boromir accompanying the main party, along with plenty of other examples of significant human characters in Tolkien's work- you can't just arbitrarily exclude the viable possibility of such party members offhand without violating the simulationist creative agenda. Why can't the party? For the sake of balance?! Then that's a metagame mechanic- OOC concerns intruding upon the world's integrity.

I'm not seeing how the simulationist agenda as defined in your OP has any problem with this. You wrote:


Simulationism isn't expressly concerned with larger, overriding agendas, such as victory or storyline- if they happen along the way, that's nice- but the primary objective is the strict enforcement of internal cause-and-consequence in an impartial fashion.


All simulationism needs to be concerned with according to what you have there is internally consistant rules that cleave to the setting. Elves, Wizards etc. need to exist within the setting, but nothing in the simulationist agenda demands that those races be available as player races. Bill the Pony accompanies the party for a long time, does not having a player race for donkeys also then violate the simulationist agenda?

Samurai Jill
2008-12-01, 03:22 PM
ll simulationism needs to be concerned with according to what you have there is internally consistant rules that cleave to the setting.
The setting includes lots of human 'adventurers'! This would be like playing Serenity and disallowing Browncoat characters!

There is a simple question here: What aspect of the setting would automatically exclude human mortals from getting involved in important events, such that it would justify the total exclusion of their characters from play? There isn't any.

AKA_Bait
2008-12-01, 03:30 PM
The setting includes lots of human 'adventurers'! This would be like playing Serenity and disallowing Browncoat characters!

No, it would be more like saying that supergenuis psychicninjas (i.e. River) cannot be PCs.


There is a simple question here: What aspect of the setting would automatically exclude human mortals from getting involved in important events, such that it would justify the total exclusion of their characters from play? There isn't any.

No aspect of the system needs to keep 'humans from being involved in important events'. The only aspect of the system we are talking about is one that prohibits humans as player characters rather than NPC's. NPCs can be involved in important events.

The simpler question is: What part of simulationism requires that if a thing exists in a particular setting that it must be available as a player character?

Person_Man
2008-12-01, 03:30 PM
People wrote thousands (millions?) of excellent books before literary theory was ever conceived of. And the people who are still writing excellent books rarely get their PhD's in English or Literature. In fact, the over analysis of writing tends to kill whatever joy they might otherwise find in it. Theory in the soft sciences exist almost entirely to employ college professors. Except for maybe grad students, they are the only people who care about them.

Roleplaying games are a hobby - not a science - and not even a social science. Sometimes its fun. Sometimes its ridiculous. Sometimes its broken, and people do their best to fix it to make it fun again. There is no workable meta theory to explain it that will lead to better games, just as their is no workable meta theory to explain baseball that will lead to better games.

If you're a game designer, your best bet is to:

1) Think of an interesting idea, preferably an original one.
2) Copyright it.
3) Find a set of game mechanics that fit well with that idea.
4) Find a niche group of people who would pay money to read/play it.
5) Spend every waking moment marketing your idea/game to said niche.

You'll notice that contextualizing your idea in terms of GNS theory is not listed there. That's because doing so will probably make you screw with other steps, which are far more important for accomplishing the goal of getting people to pay you money for your idea(s).

RPGuru1331
2008-12-01, 03:41 PM
Roleplaying games are a hobby - not a science - and not even a social science. Sometimes its fun. Sometimes its ridiculous. Sometimes its broken, and people do their best to fix it to make it fun again. There is no workable meta theory to explain it that will lead to better games, just as their is no workable meta theory to explain baseball that will lead to better games.
I'm relatively certain that Baseball players actually have to do a lot of analysis, it's just htat the analysis is grounded in physical things, rather then meta-concepts..



If you're a game designer, your best bet is to:

1) Think of an interesting idea, preferably an original one.
2) Copyright it.
3) Find a set of game mechanics that fit well with that idea.
4) Find a niche group of people who would pay money to read/play it.
5) Spend every waking moment marketing your idea/game to said niche.

You'll notice that contextualizing your idea in terms of GNS theory is not listed there. That's because doing so will probably make you screw with other steps, which are far more important for accomplishing the goal of getting people to pay you money for your idea(s).
Out of ever so vague curiosity, have you designed a system?

Lord Tataraus
2008-12-01, 05:39 PM
These questions are closely related.

Let's just take the case of simulationism and gamism.
Imagine that you're trying to recreate the world of Tolkien. The simulationist agenda mandates that you must faithfully represent wizards, elves and dunedain as intrinsically superior to lesser mortals. By contrast, the gamist agenda requires that all player-characters have an equally viable array of tactical options available to them- this is not compatible with lesser mortals being slower, stupider or weaker than wizards, elves, and dunedain. You could attempt to balance the racial options available by hobbling the stronger races with level adjustments, fewer resources or onerous restrictions on how their powers may be employed. However, neither is likely to go far enough, the former violates simulationism as a explicit metagame mechanic, and the latter encourages Calvinball play with players seeking loopholes in their arbitrary codes of conduct.

If you wish the tactical options of all races to be equally viable, without dysfunction, then you must relegate simulationism to a secondary and subordinate role. Conversely, if you wish the game to be entirely faithful to Tolkien's representation, you must abandon gamism. There's no way around it. That's the prediction- go prove me wrong.

I can make a game in a Tolkien setting that adheres to simulationist, gamist, and narrativist all in one. All players are "higher" mortals (which are easier to balance than you think), making them the definite center of the world, especially if you locate your game outside of Middle-Earth where you have a set of guidelines but are otherwise free of restraints so you don't mess with simulationists and you have a bunch of battles to satisfy the gamist hack 'n' slashers. Actually, that sounds familiar, oh yeah I ran that game and it worked beautifully. I didn't need to even know about GNS (I've never heard of it before) I just happen to be a simulation fan and I have equal number of what you might consider "gamist" and "narrativist" players, but I don't really agree with any of those terms.

Raum
2008-12-01, 08:09 PM
Wikipedia has a more concise summary of GNS without the editorials (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/GNS_Theory). Two things are worth noting; the theory's creator (Ron Edwards) has discarded it in favor of a differing model (though he still incorporates portions of GNS) and, per Edwards, GNS was intended to model a single decision or behavior within a game not games as a whole. As long as it remains narrowly focused on that single decision point, it has some validity. But not when expanded beyond that narrow focus.

Check out this essay (http://gamestudies.org/0701/articles/simons) for a comparison between games and narratives. I'll warn you, it's long and occasionally abstruse. It shows many of GNS' shortcomings, even without discussing GNS itself. As far as I can tell, academia hasn't given GNS much, if any, weight.

Neek
2008-12-01, 09:19 PM
[Edit]If you thought tl;dr, then here's the short-version.
GNS IS BULLOCKS

Attempting to conceptualize meta-concepts in the name of a better product that's more appealing to a certain niche, the niche defined by the straw-man meta-concepts, is faulty. It's faulty to design a game based around the motivations of the players, especially because ANY SYSTEM will promote any of these three concepts, no matter how hard you try to emphasize or remove these.

The system also trivializes gamers to only a relationship with the rules as presented.
The [Gamists] identity-token only operate if the [Players] token has Options, and the [Gamists (Power-Gamer)][Player-Token] token only works if there are Options to exploit to gain an advantage against [Gamists (Power-Gamer)][Player][x] tokens.
The [Simulationists] identity-token only operate if the [Players] token has Mechanics, superseding Options, and only if those Mechanics can produce any relationship that the [Players] token has to the [Universe] token.
The [Narrativists] identity-token only operates if the [Players] token has Mechanics, superseding Options, and only if those Mechanics can produce any relationship that the [Players] token has to the [Non-Players] token.


... waitaminute... So [Narrativists] tokens and [Simulationists] tokens contrast with each other in that the purpose of the Mechanics is separate, while [Gamists] tokens contrasts with everything else on the purpose that it only works with Options?

To put it into English: [Gamists] tokens care about races, classes, skills available, feats, equipment choices, and magic spells available to them--the Options that the Mechanics can provide. It doesn't matter if the Mechanics are faulty, as long as the Options within the Mechanics can be exploited. [Simulationists] tokens care about how the rules for Swim, Jump, Attack, overland movement, et. al operate in correlation to the real world. Everyone can be a Human Commoner with 4 hp--the options are irrelevant. What is relevant is if, when the commoner jumps, does he jump like a real person? [Narrativists] tokens care about how the rules operate for Charisma-related checks, how Bluff, Diplomacy, and Intimidate alter the motivations of [Non-Players]. Again, it doesn't matter what the Options are, as long as the Mechanics see fit that Intimidate garners appropriate responses.

Can't you see the problem here? These design elements are exclusive to another--they're not supposed to co-exist because of the two-thirds rule, so no game system can contain all three, nor can any gaming group. But yet... it happens, doesn't it?

Design elements in any system aren't meant to conflict or exclude each other. Space doesn't contradict nor conflict Lines, and not knowing what these are doesn't make poorer artwork than if you did.


This is amazing hubris. Ron Edwards is seriously comparing his pet theory in gaming to Newtonian physics in the natural sciences? I've heard stories of this guy's ego, but . . .

Here's an alternative and much simpler explanation: perhaps few if any RPG designers or GMs know or care about GNS theory because GNS theory just isn't all that useful?

This I can agree with. The theory doesn't add anything except for an idealized model about how players are motivated to relate themselves to the rules as presented. This means nothing. This is like designing video games based around how players relate themselves to the OS the game is programmed in.

Those're my two cents in. Two Cents of Flaming +1. Let this boat sink.

icefractal
2008-12-02, 01:21 AM
Ron Edwards declares things he doesn't like simulationist. Hence, World of Darkness.While I have my doubts about the GNS model, I can see where he's coming from on this. While some people assume roleplaying and storytelling are the same, or at least on the same branch of things, they can actually be at odds with each-other.

Fundamentally, roleplaying is 1st person, storytelling is 3rd person. The ideal environment for roleplaying, at least IME, is moderately simulationist. Not in the sense that you're looking at ballistics charts to determine where your arrow landed, but in the sense that a character would be able to open a door because they're good at lockpicking - not because the player invested more narrative control in the door being open than the DM did in keeping it closed. WoD fits a lot more into this category than it does into being a storytelling game.

Of course, lumping all the things that are part of "simulationism" into one category has its own issues - genre simulation isn't going to give you the same result as rules-as-physics or immersion.

RPGuru1331
2008-12-02, 01:29 AM
Fundamentally, roleplaying is 1st person, storytelling is 3rd person. The ideal environment for roleplaying, at least IME, is moderately simulationist. Not in the sense that you're looking at ballistics charts to determine where your arrow landed, but in the sense that a character would be able to open a door because they're good at lockpicking - not because the player invested more narrative control in the door being open than the DM did in keeping it closed. WoD fits a lot more into this category than it does into being a storytelling game.

...It defines time. In dramatic units. It explicitly discusses themes for the game. It's just not simulationist. It can sorta be made to be so, if you pick apart all the setting inconsistencies, but it just doesn't work out of the box as such.

Kurald Galain
2008-12-02, 05:22 AM
1) Think of an interesting idea, preferably an original one.
2) Copyright it.

Copyright Does Not Work That Way. Good night.

Tengu_temp
2008-12-02, 06:29 AM
Gamism and narrativism are however, in a sense, mirror images of eachother- they both revolve around expectations of active contribution by other players in order to shape unfolding events, but their arenas are very different: in gamism, it's the length of a bout, and the payoff is victory- in narrativism, it's the length of a story, and the payoff is thematic unity. The effect of this is that gamism and narrativism don't mix- groups just peacefully go one way or the other.


I disagree with this statement. In the games I DM, story and players taking prime roles in it are the most important aspects, but when combat starts I pay heavy attention to the rules and try to make it challenging and fun not only on storytelling level, but also on mechanical level. That's a combination of narrativism and gamism.

Ethdred
2008-12-02, 06:40 AM
First off, I'd like to congratulate the anti-GNS-ists (if I can call you that) for collectively presenting some of the best arguments I've have seen in an Internet discussion - logical, well argued, and moderate. Unfortunately, you are arguing against something that is illogical and hence impervious to your weapons. The whole 'theory' sets out a serious of (in my opinion badly written and badly argued) premises and assumes them to be true, and then goes from there. So you either argue from their premises, in which case they've already won, or you try to argue with their premises, which they won't accept.

Most roleplayers will blend all three of these types of gaming (and several others which have not been identified) in a dynamic way, depending on the situation they are in. Yes, some game systems will favour or encourage certain types of play, but generally they won't force you down any particular route. In the end, each group will find a balance between the motivations of all its members, or (as we have seen in many examples on this board) fall apart. But this 'theory' won't help them either way.

Samurai Jill
2008-12-02, 07:15 AM
No, it would be more like saying that supergenuis psychicninjas (i.e. River) cannot be PCs.
You're talking about a team composed exclusively of supergenius psychicninjas! (Plus, River was balanced by being insane.)

5 members of the fellowship are hobbits or standard humans, and all but two of bilbo's companions are dwarves- It is completely ridiculous to say that a Tolkien-based RPG could exclude them from adventuring parties and remain faithful to the spirit of the setting.

Besides- there's no indication that dwarves, elves, wizards, and dunedain are evenly matched in power levels either. You're just staving off the larger issue.

The simpler question is: What part of simulationism requires that if a thing exists in a particular setting that it must be available as a player character?
The fact that these things were intimately involved in adventuring parties within that setting. In order to adhere to simulationist aesthetics, you must be able to faithfully recreate the stories associated with that setting within the bounds of rule mechanics. And don't tell me that the GM can fill in the blanks with NPCs in the party. You might as well argue that the GM can play all the characters and save himself some time to masturbate.

Right. We'll include humans and hobbits in the setting- strictly as NPCs. To taunt you.

All players are "higher" mortals (which are easier to balance than you think), making them the definite center of the world, especially if you locate your game outside of Middle-Earth
Oh, because abandoning the entire setting along with elves and wizards is definitely in-keeping with simulationism.

Samurai Jill
2008-12-02, 07:23 AM
This is amazing hubris. Ron Edwards is seriously comparing his pet theory in gaming to Newtonian physics in the natural sciences? I've heard stories of this guy's ego, but...
I don't think Ron would claim to be sole originator of GNS theory at all- it's been the outgrowth of long discussions among a lot of people. He just summarised things, in particular as an outgrowth of the Threefold Model.

Check out this essay for a comparison between games and narratives. I'll warn you, it's long and occasionally abstruse. It shows many of GNS' shortcomings, even without discussing GNS itself. As far as I can tell, academia hasn't given GNS much, if any, weight.
Right. Because academia is noted for the intense formal study of role-playing games. (I will observe, however, that 4E D&D certainly seems to have taken a few pages from the GNS book.)

Samurai Jill
2008-12-02, 07:25 AM
I disagree with this statement. In the games I DM, story and players taking prime roles in it are the most important aspects, but when combat starts I pay heavy attention to the rules and try to make it challenging and fun not only on storytelling level, but also on mechanical level. That's a combination of narrativism and gamism.
Tengu, here is a fundamental question- is your overall story structure determined by you, or by the players? I mean, are the players simply fulfilling predefined roles that you've thoughtfully provided for them within larger events, or are they actually changing story structure as they go?

Samurai Jill
2008-12-02, 07:39 AM
The [Gamists] identity-token only operate if the [Players] token has Options, and the [Gamists (Power-Gamer)][Player-Token] token only works if there are Options to exploit to gain an advantage against [Gamists (Power-Gamer)][Player][x] tokens.
"identity-token" (singular) should be followed by operates. I kinda lost you after that point.

To put it into English: [Gamists] tokens care about races, classes, skills available, feats, equipment choices, and magic spells available to them--the Options that the Mechanics can provide. It doesn't matter if the Mechanics are faulty, as long as the Options within the Mechanics can be exploited.
I'm not sure what you mean by 'faulty' here. If you mean 'unrealistic', then yes, it does not terribly matter, as the popularity of Hit Points show. If you mean 'unbalanced and prone to breaking', then this certainly does matter, because options available to the players should be roughly tactically balanced.

[Simulationists] tokens care about how the rules for Swim, Jump, Attack, overland movement, et. al operate in correlation to the real world.
That is for realist-simulationists, or Purist-For-System design. They do not neccesarily apply when trying to recreate superhero battles or action-movie conventions, as in High-Concept design.

Everyone can be a Human Commoner with 4 hp--the options are irrelevant. What is relevant is if, when the commoner jumps, does he jump like a real person?
Uh... if you're strictly concerned about that, you really shouldn't be using Hit Points in the first place. This is a classic example of incoherent design. (Also, the diversity of character roles may well be important to the players, insofar as that reflects the social system of the game world- i.e, elves, dwarves, wizards and hobbits in Tolkien.)

[Narrativists] tokens care about how the rules operate for Charisma-related checks, how Bluff, Diplomacy, and Intimidate alter the motivations of [Non-Players]. Again, it doesn't matter what the Options are, as long as the Mechanics see fit that Intimidate garners appropriate responses.
That has absolutely nothing to do with narrativism. This is simply exploration of character interaction, which could be either simulationist (if trying to faithfully model how it works in reality or under genre-conventions) or gamist (if trying to ensure the range of options presented are all tactically viable.) Narrativism is about exerting primary authorship over the story.

Feel free to get back to me on that.

Grey Paladin
2008-12-02, 07:58 AM
The software world has long operated under a similar module, until Agile Morphism (I'm not sure what the actual term is in English) refuted the claim that no software can cover all frontiers.

Consider this- the PCs are thrown into the equivalent of a Tabletop TES: IV Oblivion: the rules are simulationist in nature, yet they are not transparent and players are not required to know them.

In a simulation of reality, the players can do whatever they want within the massive sandbox (although time, and thus story, move on). they can seek the main, narrativist, plot or avoid it entirely as it unfolds on its own (effecting the characters either way). The world is full of challenges the players can seek out and perform, each one independent of their power, giving the players the option of picking the difficulty (or even the existence!) of their adventures.

At any given time, one aspect is empowered over the others- but they all exist (and indeed, support each other) harmonically within a single setting.

Tengu Has It Right.

Samurai Jill
2008-12-02, 08:32 AM
The software world has long operated under a similar module, until Agile Morphism (I'm not sure what the actual term is in English) refuted the claim that no software can cover all frontiers.

Consider this- the PCs are thrown into the equivalent of a Tabletop TES: IV Oblivion: the rules are simulationist in nature, yet they are not transparent and players are not required to know them.

In a simulation of reality, the players can do whatever they want within the massive sandbox (although time, and thus story, move on). they can seek the main, narrativist, plot or avoid it entirely as it unfolds on its own (effecting the characters either way). The world is full of challenges the players can seek out and perform, each one independent of their power, giving the players the option of picking the difficulty (or even the existence!) of their adventures.

At any given time, one aspect is empowered over the others- but they all exist (and indeed, support each other) harmonically within a single setting.

Tengu Has It Right.
But that is not narrativism, because the overall plot structure is something the player has approximately no control over. You can certainly have a story within gamist play- but the players are relegated to having no particular influence over it.

Video games are a classic example of GNS conflict, because it all comes back to The Impossible Thing Before Breakfast- you cannot have a predefined storyline coming from a single source or author, AND have the players exert meaningful thematic control. It's a complete contradiction in terms. The story- as you yourself suggested- merely provides an elaborate sandbox within which the player can provide some fine-scale details and colour for the overall narrative structure.

Take Jade Empire, for example. Bioware is celebrated for it's engaging storylines, but any video game's storyline is ultimately karaoke- you sing along to a predefined soundtrack with very little room for meaningful improvisation.
Take, for example, the moment where you happen upon the two Lotus Assassin mooks in old Tien's Landing who drop the password for the clay golems guarding the dam control. You can see them from a distance, and they will battle those ghosts 'till kingdom come... or you come along in your own sweet time and interrupt them. This wrecks suspension of disbelief, because you know you're running on rails.
This is not interactive storytelling.
I mean, the Final Fantasy series at least frankly acknowledges this dichotomy, and doesn't even pretend to offer players meaningful choice over events- it's stuck to the tried-and-true Gamist formula of feeding the characters a steady diet of ever-escalating monster encounters. There's nothing wrong with that. But it is most emphatically not narrativism.

Of course, the factors behind this in video-game development are also technological (you can't generate stories automatically) and economic (extra choices for story direction would mean more FMVs and probably more locations.) But the principle stands.

macd21
2008-12-02, 08:52 AM
You're talking about a team composed exclusively of supergenius psychicninjas! (Plus, River was balanced by being insane.)

No, he's talking about a team of browncoats. All that matters is the power level of the characters compared to each other.



5 members of the fellowship are hobbits or standard humans, and all but two of bilbo's companions are dwarves- It is completely ridiculous to say that a Tolkien-based RPG could exclude them from adventuring parties and remain faithful to the spirit of the setting.

Nonsense. The fellowship of the ring was a narrative creation. In fact, if I was to create a simulationist Tolkien setting, I would insist that all of the players had to belong to

Besides- there's no indication that dwarves, elves, wizards, and dunedain are evenly matched in power levels either. You're just staving off the larger issue.

The fact that these things were intimately involved in adventuring parties within that setting. In order to adhere to simulationist aesthetics, you must be able to faithfully recreate the stories associated with that setting within the bounds of rule mechanics. And don't tell me that the GM can fill in the blanks with NPCs in the party. You might as well argue that the GM can play all the characters and save himself some time to masturbate.

Right. We'll include humans and hobbits in the setting- strictly as NPCs. To taunt you.



Oh, because abandoning the entire setting along with elves and wizards is definitely in-keeping with simulationism. It's possible you either have no comprehension of GNS or are actively in denial about it.

They don't have to be abandoned, they just don't have to be available to the players as character options.

In anycase, the entire tolkien argument is a strawman - a specific example being twisted to try and prove the GNS theory. Realistically, if I was going to try to create a tolken RPG, I would:

1. try to make it adhere to the setting as much as possible
2. try to balance the various character options as much as possible, but while keeping 1. in mind.
3. try to envourage heroic modes of play, where the characters are the main protagonists etc.

Lets take a game which had similar issues to the ones you've described with the tolkien universe, Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay. In the Warhammer universe, elves and dwarves are superior to humans and halflings (elves are faster and more agile, dwarves are tougher etc). To deal with this, while remaining true to the setting, humans and halflings got some advantages (mostly in the form of Fate/fortune points, reflecting the fact that the time of the older races had passed). The combat system is harsh, reflecting the dark and grim nature of the setting and the characters may die pointless deaths... but to counter that (again) they have fate and fortune points, which represent their importance in the greater scheme of things.

So, WFRP has gamist (the characters are relatively balanced, compete against monsters and themselves etc), simulationist (the system and setting emphasises cause and effect rational - charge an orc horde and you die, anger the local authorities and you'll be locked up/die, drink the local water and you'll die, go walking through the woods at night and you'll die etc (you'll die) etc (diediedie)) and narrativist (the PCs have fate points to insure that they survive long enough to make some impression on the world).

Samurai Jill
2008-12-02, 09:01 AM
No, he's talking about a team of browncoats. All that matters is the power level of the characters compared to each other.
Excluding everybody APART from browncoats is just as bad!

They don't have to be abandoned, they just don't have to be available to the players as character options.
Yes. They. Do. Or you violate faithful recreation of significant character roles within the setting. That breaks simulationism.

To deal with this, while remaining true to the setting, humans and halflings got some advantages (mostly in the form of Fate/fortune points, reflecting the fact that the time of the older races had passed).
That is a metagame mechanic, which also violates the simulationist aesthetic agenda, because it does not reflect internal cause-and-consequence.

Also, I must again emphasise that metagame mechanics do not a narrativist system make- you need a means to address specific premise, and players must be empowered to exert primary authorship over the storyline.

Also, you have yet to demonstrate that WFRP is actually a good game. Because to me, it sounds like a classic example of incoherent design.

Weezer
2008-12-02, 09:04 AM
But his argument does not include the idea that WFRP is a good game, just that it adheres to all three aspects of GNS.

Lord Tataraus
2008-12-02, 09:19 AM
Oh, because abandoning the entire setting along with elves and wizards is definitely in-keeping with simulationism. It's possible you either have no comprehension of GNS or are actively in denial about it.

I had a party consisting of a Dunedain, a Haradrim, a Hobbit, a Dwarf, an Elf, and a Wizard. All were balanced with mechanical and social aspects. The game started in Rivendel and eventually moved into Khand via Near Harad and finally ended in Rhun. No one was more powerful than the others given their limitations and we never strayed outside the setting of Arda (if you think Middle-Earth is the entirety of the setting you are gravely mistaken, it only comprises about 20% of the world). As a big Tolkien fan I had all the resources necessary to make sure everything fit within the simulation of the world. The group could have gone into any part of Arda they wished and were powerful enough to alter events of the world significantly (they toppled a small kingdom and started a few wars) and there was conflict and competition through out the entire game; every session had at least 2 battles though there is more than that for the conflict.

As for your second statement, I would say I think the theory is BS (you can call it denial, I deny that the theory universally true and is thus false). just by reading it and comparing it to my past experiences with gaming and I think it's pretty well supported by what others have said here.

Tengu_temp
2008-12-02, 09:24 AM
Tengu, here is a fundamental question- is your overall story structure determined by you, or by the players? I mean, are the players simply fulfilling predefined roles that you've thoughtfully provided for them within larger events, or are they actually changing story structure as they go?

This is completely irrelevant. Why? Because the "to be a narrativist, players must have the same influence in shaping the story as the DM" part is not a part of the definition of a narrativist gameplay.

But let's play devil's advocate and say it is. Let's say I'm playing a very rules-light game, with very little combat. I have a plot set up, and while my players might pull off something that might surprise me and force me to change several things, I generally expect them to follow it. The story is the focus of the game. Gamist, simulationist, or narrativist?

Samurai Jill
2008-12-02, 09:27 AM
But his argument does not include the idea that WFRP is a good game, just that it adheres to all three aspects of GNS.
It is entirely possible that this makes it a bad game! That's one of the major predictions of GNS theory! (Of course, I'm still not seeing evidence for narrativism there.)

I had a party consisting of a Dunedain, a Haradrim, a Hobbit, a Dwarf, an Elf, and a Wizard. All were balanced with mechanical and social aspects.
Then you're violating simulationism! Wizards and haradrim are simply not equally powerful! This is not a difficult point to understand! The game you describe is primarily gamist with fidelity to setting (simulationism) in a secondary and subordinate role. There's nothing wrong with that, but it is not a case of gamism and simulationism being equal partners. You have clearly favoured one over the other.

Neek
2008-12-02, 09:28 AM
"identity-token" (singular) should be followed by operates. I kinda lost you after that point.

Considering I wrote that drunk, you should be amazed that's one of the few, if any, typos I present.


I'm not sure what you mean by 'faulty' here. If you mean 'unrealistic', then yes, it does not terribly matter, as the popularity of Hit Points show. If you mean 'unbalanced and prone to breaking', then this certainly does matter, because options available to the players should be roughly tactically balanced.

The Mechanics can either be faulty in the terms of unrealistic design (hit points, saving throws, levels) or broken (hypothetically, the XP point buy system makes acquiring skills easier, but not special abilities; but the power-curve balance is screwed, and it's possible to be more powerful with skills than with special abilities).


That is for realist-simulationists, or Purist-For-System design. They do not neccesarily apply when trying to recreate superhero battles or action-movie conventions, as in High-Concept design.

This was a generalization, of course. All of them were. I was attempting to reiterate the premise so I could understand how they compare. When you're recreating a superhero battle, it's still Mechanics in relation to the [Universe] token--how your powers operate, what they do, &c.


Uh... if you're strictly concerned about that, you really shouldn't be using Hit Points in the first place. This is a classic example of incoherent design. (Also, the diversity of character roles may well be important to the players, insofar as that reflects the social system of the game world- i.e, elves, dwarves, wizards and hobbits in Tolkien.)

I could have easily said seven health, like in old White Wolf games. Or brought up the Injury variant in D&D from UA. Either way, what your stats are irrelevant at this point--the character isn't defined by his Options, but his abilities to operate within the Mechanics; of course roles are still important, but the Options of roles are superseded.


That has absolutely nothing to do with narrativism. This is simply exploration of character interaction, which could be either simulationist (if trying to faithfully model how it works in reality or under genre-conventions) or gamist (if trying to ensure the range of options presented are all tactically viable.) Narrativism is about exerting primary authorship over the story.

You're reading through the main points and addressing the bullocks. Narrativism was the hardest one for me to grasp, anyway. Both the other systems were presented as 1). relationship of [Player] to Options and 2). relationship of [Player] to Mechanics as it pertains to interacting with the [Universe] token, respectively. So I might have been wrong. [Narrativists][Player] tokens only care about their relationship to Mechanics as it pertains to interacting WITHIN the [Universe] tokens (this operates under the assumption of character-motivations).

However, these points are irrelevant at this point. I think there's something more important to state:


It's possible you either have no comprehension of GNS or are actively in denial about it.

You make the implication that GNS is a superb abstract analysis of role-playing games, and that the top-most priority for gamers are "creative agenda." In order to have this ignorance-or-denial claim, the premise of GNS must itself hold as evident in ANY gaming, and that any game system, gaming group, game master, and players can only be two of those three, if two at all.

I game because it's fun. I have a beer when I game. I have a beer when I play pool, and that's fun too--but there is no creative agenda when I play pool. Abstracting a creative-agenda for pool assumes a lot, but it doesn't make pool any more fun, or any less fun for that matter.

Comparison aside, how do these creative agendas make games better? You want to convince me that it isn't bullocks, don't convince me with rhetoric. Convince me with results.

Samurai Jill
2008-12-02, 09:29 AM
This is completely irrelevant. Why? Because the "to be a narrativist, players must have the same influence in shaping the story as the DM" part is not a part of the definition of a narrativist gameplay.

This collaborative address of an underlying 'premise' has several implications- firstly, no one person can dictate the outcome of the story- each character must be free to give different responses, and to have those answers' consequences expressed honestly within events.

Let's say I'm playing a very rules-light game, with very little combat. I have a plot set up, and while my players might pull off something that might surprise me and force me to change several things, I generally expect them to follow it...
Not Narrativist- you're essentially using illusionism.

Tengu_temp
2008-12-02, 09:37 AM
Is it something Ron Edwards said? Or someone else?

And non-narrativist? This game doesn't have enough mechanical challenges to be gamist, and very light rules are too symbolic for a simulationist game. And there is no "neither of those three" option.

I think the basic ideas (gamist = concentrates on mechanical challenge, simulationist = concentrates on making the world consistent, narrativist = concentrates on creating a story) behind the GNS theory were good, then someone suddenly started adding elements to them that not only made everything blurrier, but also often proved not to be true.

Samurai Jill
2008-12-02, 09:51 AM
Is it something Ron Edwards said? Or someone else?
It's something I said, as a synopsis of aspects of the larger related theory.

And non-narrativist? This game doesn't have enough mechanical challenges to be gamist, and very light rules are too symbolic for a simulationist game. And there is no "neither of those three" option.
That depends. Wushu is very rules-lite, and is also simulationist with respect to action movies. It can be adapted successfully to other purposes, as Kiero has proven, but the core rules' formulation do explicitly try to evoke a certain genre ambience.

Do you try to recreate the conventions of a particular genre in play? Is a 'feeling' of gritty realism important to you? Is there some external standard you look up to and try to emulate?


So I might have been wrong. [Narrativists][Player] tokens only care about their relationship to Mechanics as it pertains to interacting WITHIN the [Universe] tokens (this operates under the assumption of character-motivations).
Narrativist players (or people playing in a narrativist style) care about mechanics only insofar as it helps to address premise and ration influence over the storyline. I think this is the answer you're looking for.
(Also, if you consider lack of realism to be a cardinal fault, you should probably be throwing out the idea of 'XP' at the same time. But there's nothing 'faulty' about lack of realism per se. It's only a problem if realism is a strong priority for starting your design.)

You make the implication that GNS is a superb abstract analysis of role-playing games, and that the top-most priority for gamers are "creative agenda."
Okay, maybe I came off as a little overbearing. But yes, I happen to think that GNS is a useful tool for role-playing analysis, and that prioritising within that framework is important to successful design.

Comparison aside, how do these creative agendas make games better? You want to convince me that it isn't bullocks, don't convince me with rhetoric. Convince me with results.
The point isn't that a creative agenda 'makes' things better, but is that it's there whether you like it or not, and frustrating play results when different players have a different agenda and/or the rules don't support yours.
'Having fun' is hopelessly ambiguous because fun means different things to different people. GNS theory states there are essentially 3 major forms of fun, and that these can easily come into conflict.

Again, my fault if I failed to explain things clearly during the initial post. I will try to rectify that at some point.

valadil
2008-12-02, 09:55 AM
Not Narrativist- you're essentially using illusionism.

If that doesn't qualify, can you give an example of a game that actually is narrativist and not just illusionism?

Tengu_temp
2008-12-02, 09:59 AM
It's something I said, as a synopsis of aspects of the larger related theory.

In other words, it is something Ron Edwards did not say. It's just your interpretation.



Do you try to recreate the conventions of a particular genre in play? Is a 'feeling' of gritty realism important to you? Is there some external standard you look up to and try to emulate?

I play to tell a story. A story where players are the main protagonists. If that's the most important part, and everything else plays second fiddle, then what are the reasons the game might NOT be narrativist?

elliott20
2008-12-02, 10:48 AM
seems to me people can't even agree on the definition of the three aspects...

Grey Paladin
2008-12-02, 10:54 AM
Samurai Jill: The players have as much as influence on the story as I do simply due to the fact I am not limiting the answers: I pose a question and reweave the story depending on the answer.

Another name for such an exchange is a Dialog.

macd21
2008-12-02, 10:56 AM
That is a metagame mechanic, which also violates the simulationist aesthetic agenda, because it does not reflect internal cause-and-consequence.

Yes, it is and yes it does. Warhammer is not a pure G, N or S RPG. It is a mix - which is my point.



Also, I must again emphasise that metagame mechanics do not a narrativist system make- you need a means to address specific premise, and players must be empowered to exert primary authorship over the storyline.

Again, it isn't a narrativist game, it is a mix. The players have some power to exert authorship over the game. The metagame mechanics in this case are designed to promote the characters-are-heroes premise.



Also, you have yet to demonstrate that WFRP is actually a good game. Because to me, it sounds like a classic example of incoherent design.

While the fact that WFRP is a popular game would seem to be sufficient demonstration on its own, the fact is, I don't have to prove that it is a good game - you have to demonstrate that it is a bad game, due to the fact that the designers didn't take GNS into account when they made the game. They combined G, N and S elements into the game when they created it, without sticking to one or two. The game does have its flaws - but those flaws have nothing to do with GNS. So WFRP stands as an example of a good, popular game that happily ignored GNS theory without creating a disaster of an RPG.

Matthew
2008-12-02, 11:08 AM
So WFRP stands as an example of a good, popular game that happily ignored GNS theory without creating a disaster of an RPG.

Indeed. Interestingly, the brief for designing WHFRP (first edition) was apparently "a grittier version of D&D".

BardicDuelist
2008-12-02, 11:19 AM
I think GNS is useful in one, and only one, area: deciding on and designing systems. Simply, something like GURPS works better for simulationist, while D&D is primarily Gamist. Both can do Narrative rather well. That doesn't mean that D&D can't do simulation, or that GURPS can't become a "game." It just means that certain systems work better for certain things.

Outside of this, which, I think if everyone were to pay attention to would help solve some of the "edition wars" that currently keep me from wanting to visit these boards as often as I used to, GNS is rather irrelevant. It's not really something that is useful to people playing the game, but may be to those choosing exactly what game to play, and certainly is to those who make said games.

Satyr
2008-12-02, 11:22 AM
You will find many roleplaying games which more or less will do erxactly the opposite of that what Edwards propose - his pet theory is not that consistent and has signicant weaknesses (apart from the inbecile idea to establish artificial demarcations between players and divide them instead of establishing the much more important and productive commonalities), which are painful to read, but have become necessary elements of the whole theory. I strongly advice against discussing within this theoretical framework as this would implying an acceptance.

Besides, the whole theoretical hot air will not help you an iota with the important questions of a rolepalyaing group, such as 'How do you create suspense?', 'How do I design the specific campaign to make it a lasting experience for the players?' or 'How can I bring the different interests and ideas of a heterogenious group together?'

The last thing, while probably one of the most relevant aspects of gamemastering - creating a result which is desirable for every participant - is just completely neglected in the whole GNS theory, if not even sabotaged.

Darrin
2008-12-02, 11:23 AM
seems to me people can't even agree on the definition of the three aspects...

Congradulations, that's pretty much GNS Theory in a nutshell.

macd21
2008-12-02, 11:31 AM
I think GNS is useful in one, and only one, area: deciding on and designing systems. Simply, something like GURPS works better for simulationist, while D&D is primarily Gamist. Both can do Narrative rather well. That doesn't mean that D&D can't do simulation, or that GURPS can't become a "game." It just means that certain systems work better for certain things.

Outside of this, which, I think if everyone were to pay attention to would help solve some of the "edition wars" that currently keep me from wanting to visit these boards as often as I used to, GNS is rather irrelevant. It's not really something that is useful to people playing the game, but may be to those choosing exactly what game to play, and certainly is to those who make said games.

IMO, the only benefit to GNS theory comes when you are discussing whether a game has G, N or S traits - as I pointed out with WFRP, many games have all three. You can gauge whether a game has more of one or another.

However, I don't think it is really useful at all to game designers. In fact, I see it as a designer trap. Creating a game according to the tennets of GNS will result in a very specialised, niche game that will only appeal to a minority of gamers. Most people, IME, aren't strict G, N or S adherants - each gamer likes a different mix of each. Creating a game that is 100% Narrativist won't just put off players who are mostly Simulationist or Gamist, it will also put off the player who is 60% Narrativist, 30% Simulationist, 10% Gamist.

The RPG market isn't divided into Gamists, Simulationists and Narrativists in a meaningful way. Instead of trying to make a game that appeals solely to Simulationists, you are better off concentrating on whether you want to appeal to fans of Scifi, Fantasy, or Horror, whether you will be making a game that focuses on action or social interaction etc. GNS should just be a minor consideration, if you think of it at all.

macd21
2008-12-02, 11:33 AM
Besides, the whole theoretical hot air will noit help ypu an iota with the important questions of a rolepalyaing group, such as 'How do you create suspense?', 'How do I design the specific campaign to make it a lasring experience for the players?'or 'How can I bring the different interests and ideas of a heterogenious group together?'

The last thing, while probably one of the most relevant aspects of gamemastering - creating a result which is desirable for every participant - is just completely neglected in the whole GNS theory, if not even sabotaged.

Also, what Satyr said :smallbiggrin:

Lord Tataraus
2008-12-02, 12:06 PM
Then you're violating simulationism! Wizards and haradrim are simply not equally powerful! This is not a difficult point to understand! The game you describe is primarily gamist with fidelity to setting (simulationism) in a secondary and subordinate role. There's nothing wrong with that, but it is not a case of gamism and simulationism being equal partners. You have clearly favoured one over the other.

No, balanced one a mechanical and social level with advantages and drawbacks all taken into account, a wizard and haradrim are balanced. A haradrim is a natural archer and has the invaluable knowledge of Mumak rearing and handling. On the other hand the wizard has a vast amount of divine power to call upon and destroy his foes, however, power spells come and a great cost of corruption. Technically, the wizard could've nuked the kingdom they were attacking, but that would have corrupted him beyond his own control and fallen into the urges of power addiction like Sauron, Faenor, Saruman, etc. before him. These checks are built into the system by Tolkien himself, I didn't create them, only extrapolate these balances into game mechanics - a perfect example of a symbiotic relationship of simulatist and gamist modes, then throw in the fact that they were heroes of the world and their actions had drastic consequences in the world and its also narrativist.

The problem I'm seeing with this is that all three of these so-called play modes support one another so that all three are maintained equally which is against GNS theory. As macd21 said, there is no way to create a game focused on one mode, you have to have all of them for a workable system that will sell.

TheCheshireHat
2008-12-02, 12:14 PM
Hmm. Iīd never heard of this GNS business before, and I havenīt got around to reading the articles supplied in the OP (they seem rather... dense). But Iīll give my moderately uninformed opinion anyway.

To put it simply, I canīt see how these three aspects of an RPG are mutually exclusive. I can see that they can be mutually exclusive, but Iīm not seeing how they are necessarily so. But first, Iīm not entirely sure I get what each of these things are, so Iīll try explain them as I understand them
.
-Gamism. Itīs about the competition. Against the other players, against the DM, it doesnīt matter. Its about having a challenge and overcoming it. We have a problem, we solve it. We try to be more competent/badass than the bad guys/each other.

-Simulationism. How faithful the ruleset is to "reality", reality being either the real world, or a fictional universe. Stuff like Hitpoints vs Wounds. Or whether a swordsman can confidently fight against a gunman or not. Or how much more awesome elves are than humans, in say, Eragon: the RPG (dear god, I hope that doesnīt actually exist)

-Narrativism. Basically, itīs about making a good story. The players are expected to move the story, while the DM reacts to the playerīs actions by determining the outcomes and consequences of said actions within the world, and presenting them to the players. The players are the protagonists of a (hopefully good) story, and at the same time, co-authors of it.

Iīm not sure this is quite correct, but Iīm definately not seeing how these aspects interfere with each other. As far as I see it, each aspect seems to be dedicated to a diferent part what makes a RPG a RPG.
Gamism covers how the players and DM interact with each other, within the framework offered by the rules. Simulationism is "simply" about how detailed these rules are. Narrativism is about making a good story as you play.

More (or less) detailed rules do not mean you canīt balance the playerīs respective power levels (or not bother), nor do they imply you can (or canīt) optimise those characters. The fact that the power of the various characters is (or is not) roughly equal does not stop you from making a top-notch (or crappy) story, or roleplaying (or not) your character in an interesting manner. Finally, I donīt see having more (or less) complicated and detailed rules is going to automarically make the story suck (or... you know it goes).

Note the use of imply, stop, make, etc. Iīm saying that these three things are not, as far as I can tell, mutually exclusive. I can see how different players and playing groups may eschew (wee! I used an unusual word!) one or two of these aspects in favour of another, but equally, I canīt see how others may desire, yet be unable to find a balanced intermediate point.

I guess actual game systems can be put in one of the three categories, provided they are an extreme enough example... I suppose that FATAL might be considered a simulationist game, but I see no reason why you wouldnīt, hypothetically be able to make a good story using it (besides the obvious ones :smallbiggrin:). On the other end of things... Well, Iīm not familiar with enough systems to think of one off the top of my head. Most systems Iīve played seem to fall halfway between two, or somewhere in the middle.

RPGuru1331
2008-12-02, 02:13 PM
WFRP is Nar? Dat's a laugh. A good one. It's Sim (To WHF), and really, really gamist, but the two Warhammer RPGs aren't Narratavist. At freakin' all.

Yakk
2008-12-02, 03:04 PM
My big problem with the theory is
A> It claims to be descriptive + prescriptive, and I think it is lieing.

B> It redefines terms, or uses terms that have misleading names.

Ie, using slightly different terms that somewhat align with GNS, we get:

Gamey: A Gamey rule is one that is intended to create interesting mechanical effects. Often the main criteria for judging a Gamey rule is balance (does it ruin the topology of Gamey rules by dominating too many alternatives, or is it never used because it is always a poor choice?)

Emulationy:An Emulationy rule is one that is intended to create the feel of an external inspiration -- be it reality or a specific genre or work of external fiction.

Narativey:A Narativey rule is one that is intended to determine where the plot goes from here. Such rules divorce the characters being played from the players who are changing the Narration of the collective story.

These focus on individual rules, and attempt to highlight possible justifications for a rule or a practice within an RPG.

Darrin
2008-12-02, 03:07 PM
WFRP is Nar? Dat's a laugh. A good one. It's Sim (To WHF), and really, really gamist, but the two Warhammer RPGs aren't Narratavist. At freakin' all.

This I think is why GNS gives me headaches... Edwards at one point was claiming that since evoking a theme was narrative play, then simulating a theme = narrativism. This allows him to classify simulationist games that he likes as narrativist while still turning up his nose at simulationist games he doesn't like as being non-narrativist.

Thus, Call of Cthulhu, a brilliant game that simulates H.P. Lovecraft fiction and/or horror movies, is narrativist.

You can kind of shoehorn WFRP in via the same loophole if you emphasize the right themes: Lovecraftian/Cthulhu horror + Proto-Renaissance/Medieval Germany. At least, that's how the original 1st edition creators envisioned the background. 2nd edition isn't always quite so dark.

RPGuru1331
2008-12-02, 03:13 PM
This I think is why GNS gives me headaches... Edwards at one point was claiming that since evoking a theme was narrative play, then simulating a theme = narrativism. This allows him to classify simulationist games that he likes as narrativist while still turning up his nose at simulationist games he doesn't like as being non-narrativist.

Thus, Call of Cthulhu, a brilliant game that simulates H.P. Lovecraft fiction and/or horror movies, is narrativist.

You can kind of shoehorn WFRP in via the same loophole if you emphasize the right themes: Lovecraftian/Cthulhu horror + Proto-Renaissance/Medieval Germany. At least, that's how the original 1st edition creators envisioned the background. 2nd edition isn't always quite so dark.

I think they were just claiming it was all 3 so they could say they won and go home. Which is vaguely better then Edwards' wishy washiness with his own claims..

It always seems pretty straightforward to me though.

Agrippa
2008-12-02, 03:46 PM
I play to tell a story. A story where players are the main protagonists. If that's the most important part, and everything else plays second fiddle, then what are the reasons the game might NOT be narrativist?

Well it does sound sort of narrativist. Now what would you call a campaign in which the party has nearly limitless options, including fighting, joining forces with, undercutting or ignoring the main villians of the setting? In addition the main characters (the party) can take an active role in changing the world, even capturing, taming and bringing velociraptors from a far off "lost world" back to the Shire (if halflings). What would you call it?

RPGuru1331
2008-12-02, 03:51 PM
Well it does sound sort of narrativist. Now what would you call a campaign in which the party has nearly limitless options, including fighting, joining forces with, undercutting or ignoring the main villians of the setting? In addition the main characters (the party) can take an active role in changing the world, even capturing, taming and bringing velociraptors from a far off "lost world" back to the Shire (if halflings). What would you call it?

You've only provided a list of stuff to do, rather then anything remotely similar to tone, mechanics, or most importantly motive. It's rather difficult to tell, though for my money, Simulationist (Enormous sandboxes tilt that way.)

TheElfLord
2008-12-02, 04:05 PM
Well it does sound sort of narrativist. Now what would you call a campaign in which the party has nearly limitless options, including fighting, joining forces with, undercutting or ignoring the main villians of the setting? In addition the main characters (the party) can take an active role in changing the world, even capturing, taming and bringing velociraptors from a far off "lost world" back to the Shire (if halflings). What would you call it?

A good campaign? half the posters in this thread are arguing that GNS is either wrong or problematic. Asking people who don't agree with the theory to define a game with it isn't going to go anywhere.

Satyr
2008-12-02, 04:24 PM
If the group is happy with the game and a every participant can appropriatley contribute to the game and the moot and atmosphere of the campaign are suppported (or at least not sabotaged) b the used set of rules, the rules are functional for the game.
If there are problems within the specific game group, these have to be addressed and debated; at first within the group, if that does not suffice or you think you need further avice, with outside people.

It is completely irrelevant in which category the GNS - or any other such theory - would pigeonehole a setting, system or style. This is a theoretical meta level and macrocosmos that rarely if ever interfere with the specific problems of an individual gaming group.

Theories like Edward's have always the sound of " you are playing it wrong (because you uneducated savage doesn't now how to play the right way as you prove by not knowing the Theory)" or even worse " In fact, you are unhappy but you have not yet realized it (because it is impossible to have fun with that crap you play according to the almighty Theory)" when the theory and the specific existing game doesn't fit together. For much too many people, this is no theory anymore, it is a dogma.

Agrippa
2008-12-02, 04:26 PM
The idea was that the story comes from the interaction between the PCs, major NPCs and the rest of the world, not the other way around. Maybe the PCs try to kill the BBEG in the first quarter and succeed. Since the plot or story of the game is determined by the actions of the main characters, this happens unless the BBEG had a contingency plan of some sort. They can also undercut or join forces with said villain, occasionally with intent to betray him or her.

Character deaths, failures or triumphs shape and form the plot instead of happening for the sake of the plot. The actions, whether successful or not, of PCs and major NPCs shape the world and the plot. The villains still have their own goals but so do the PCs and they all create a story from their behavior.

Agrippa
2008-12-02, 04:31 PM
A good campaign? half the posters in this thread are arguing that GNS is either wrong or problematic. Asking people who don't agree with the theory to define a game with it isn't going to go anywhere.

I know Tengu_Temp disagrees with the theory, so do I.:smallbiggrin: I just wonder what he or anyone else thinks the campaign would be considered under the obviously flawed GNS model.

RPGuru1331
2008-12-02, 05:06 PM
The idea was that the story comes from the interaction between the PCs, major NPCs and the rest of the world, not the other way around. Maybe the PCs try to kill the BBEG in the first quarter and succeed. Since the plot or story of the game is determined by the actions of the main characters, this happens unless the BBEG had a contingency plan of some sort. They can also undercut or join forces with said villain, occasionally with intent to betray him or her.

Character deaths, failures or triumphs shape and form the plot instead of happening for the sake of the plot. The actions, whether successful or not, of PCs and major NPCs shape the world and the plot. The villains still have their own goals but so do the PCs and they all create a story from their behavior.

Plot as a result of events is pretty strictly simulationist. Gamism is right out, since you don't list one whit of caring about the mechanics, and narrativism generally, if not always, means the plot is, in a sense, the driving force, not the result.

Really, how hard can this possibly be?

Grey Paladin
2008-12-02, 05:24 PM
RPGguru: In any campaign not set on hard rails, the plot is always both the result and force.

If your players don't have an equal say in its unfolding and ending, then you are playing improp theater+Chess. [/rant]

Simulationism can be found in a realistic ruleset and freedom.

Gamism can be found in attempting to exploit and manipulate the Simulationist mechanics (Rule-mastery of 'reality') as well as seeking whatever challenge you want within the sandbox, giving an opportunity for infinite oneupmanship.

Narrativism can be found in the form of offering the story as an open question within the sandbox- the players can progress in it however they want, even if its ignoring it as the time-line progresses. One way or another the PCs set the tone and setting by choosing their current location and actions while the world pushes back through the unfolding timeline of the archstory- the impact caused by both sides creates ripples who hit against one another and result in the actual reality of the game.

Raum
2008-12-02, 05:40 PM
Right. Because academia is noted for the intense formal study of role-playing games. (I will observe, however, that 4E D&D certainly seems to have taken a few pages from the GNS book.)The article linked was written by a ludologist and posted in a forum for study of ludology. Yes, there is a field of study dedicated to the study of games. :)

Perhaps this essay on game vs story (http://www.costik.com/gamnstry.html) by a game designer (Greg Costikyan) instead of by an academic will be clearer. It's certainly easier to read.


But that is not narrativism, because the overall plot structure is something the player has approximately no control over. You can certainly have a story within gamist play- but the players are relegated to having no particular influence over it.Only true if you're speaking of railroads. In many games, player choice and outcomes of conflict resolution build the story.

Games resolve unknown outcomes through resolution of conflict. Stories describe the conflict and its resolution. It's the difference between being active or passive.

I'm curious though, Edwards discarded GNS as inadequate and came up with The Big Model (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Big_Model) to replace it. Why continue to defend GNS?

Note: I'm not supporting The Big Model - I haven't studied it adequately. I pretty much gave up on Edwards' theories before he came up with it.

RPGuru1331
2008-12-02, 05:47 PM
RPGguru: In any campaign not set on hard rails, the plot is always both the result and force.
Do you really want to get into a semantics fight? Because that's just an enormous waste of time when done for free.


Gamism can be found in attempting to exploit and manipulate the Simulationist mechanics (Rule-mastery of 'reality') as well as seeking whatever challenge you want within the sandbox, giving an opportunity for infinite oneupmanship.

Narrativism can be found in the form of offering the story as an open question within the sandbox- the players can progress in it however they want, even if its ignoring it as the time-line progresses. One way or another the PCs set the tone and setting by choosing their current location and actions while the world pushes back through the unfolding timeline of the archstory- the impact caused by both sides creates ripples who hit against one another and result in the actual reality of the game.
Your argument, effectively, is "I can do things that weren't the intent! NEENER NEENER!" Well bully for you. The intent here, especially as told to us by Agrippa, is pretty evidently Simulationist. Just because I could represent Transformers in D20 if I so choose (And spend a bunch of time doing work retooling the whole damn thing) doesn't mean D20 is meant for it, or that Mechamorphosis isn't more clearly suited for it.

As to the many words you used in your attempt to shoehorn this into Narrativism, is just a really long set of words that says "Players get to do what htey want". Good lord, I thought I was a bombastic academic.

As to what I defend it for; A useful tool to vaguely judge a system or player's intent. Nothing more, nothing less. People play DnD as simulationist; I can think of no better lasting proof that you can kitbash anything into anything. That doesn't mean that for instance, GURPS isn't better for simulationist purposes, as a general rule.

Grey Paladin
2008-12-02, 06:01 PM
RPGguru: I agreed that the distinctions offered by GNS are useful, I disagreed about the claim that the different types were exclusive of each other in any way.

A given system may lend itself to support one style over another, but that does not mean a system that supports all three equally and efficently can't be created.

GNS said 'this doesn't exists', I answered 'What is this, then?'.

Agrippa
2008-12-02, 06:03 PM
Plot as a result of events is pretty strictly simulationist. Gamism is right out, since you don't list one whit of caring about the mechanics, and narrativism generally, if not always, means the plot is, in a sense, the driving force, not the result.

Really, how hard can this possibly be?

Since this is the kind of campaign I'd like I guess that makes me a simulationist. Never really thought about my self that way. Interesting.

Ethdred
2008-12-02, 06:16 PM
Plot as a result of events is pretty strictly simulationist. Gamism is right out, since you don't list one whit of caring about the mechanics, and narrativism generally, if not always, means the plot is, in a sense, the driving force, not the result.

Really, how hard can this possibly be?

God I swore I wasn't going to do this - I HATE THE INTERNET!!

If you read the OP, which is the definition I think we're all supposed to be going by, then narrativism means theplot most certainly is the result - the result of the player who exerts most control over it. So the idea that the story can be written by all members of the group (including the GM) equally doesn't fit into this theory. And since this is a very common way of gaming, the existence of it disproves the theory.

And I think the fact your definitions disagree with the OP answers your last quetion. Since we are talking about some very badly conceived ideas badly expressed and illogically thought out, it stands to reason that coming to any agreement is going to be very hard indeed.

And while I'm here, the theory is supposed to be about game design, but ignores the fact that it is possible to game enjoyably in the same system in different modes. For example, my way of playing Call of Cthulu fits most nearly into the narrative style (and this is the way everyone I've met plays it), but I've recently discovered that there are people who play it in as a dungeon crawl, with a very gamist bent (ie people who think you are supposed to not only fight but kill Cthulu, rather than run screaming). Both of these are equally valid ways of playing the game, and I don't think anyone can prove that I get more fun out of the game than the dungeon crawlers, or vice versa.

RPGuru1331
2008-12-02, 06:16 PM
A given system may lend itself to support one style over another, but that does not mean a system that supports all three equally and efficently can't be created.

I'll grant that just because we haven't divided by zero yet doesn't mean it's utterly impossible..


God I swore I wasn't going to do this - I HATE THE INTERNET!!
Then don't.


If you read the OP, which is the definition I think we're all supposed to be going by, then narrativism means theplot most certainly is the result - the result of the player who exerts most control over it. So the idea that the story can be written by all members of the group (including the GM) equally doesn't fit into this theory. And since this is a very common way of gaming, the existence of it disproves the theory.
You know, where I come from, People have more sense then to say "Well, we didn't have a name for R 160, G0, B0, and we can't call it Red.."

Grey Paladin
2008-12-02, 06:33 PM
RPGuru: The point of the example was that a game focusing on all three aspects is reasonable while the system itself is not required to support anything but Simulationism.

The Havoc engine was created to simulate physical interactions, nothing more. Yet it can support both Gamism and Narrativism with ease. the only real difference is the media.

elliott20
2008-12-02, 09:36 PM
SEMANTIC FIGHT!!
[/cartman voice]

honestly, I don't find the theory to be SUPREMELY useful but I think it's an interesting way of looking at aspects that a gamer might possess.

but clear delineations between each value would be difficult to pin down except in the most extreme cases of player behavior. (which then limits severely the usefulness of the model)

Lord Tataraus
2008-12-02, 09:53 PM
You know, where I come from, People have more sense then to say "Well, we didn't have a name for R 160, G0, B0, and we can't call it Red.."

...ok, how is that a response to the quoted statement? He was proving the theory was incorrect via contradiction which is the most basic and well-used proving/disproving device in any form of logical argument. You're statement doesn't end, it trails off never making a point. Yes, I'm sure there isn't a name for R160 G0 B0 (except that code right there, but I'll overlook that for the sake of the analogy) and it is not red so you can't call it red (since red is R255 G0 B0 on the 256-bit scale) but then you end you're statement. There is no argument in the above quote!
[/rant]

Now, as elliott20 said, I would not classify this as a theory to design around, but to examine real player style on a small scale (such as certain decisions) this is an interesting approach. However, I still don't think it's a very good one, it leaves out the people who (if I my quote Alfred from The Dark Knight) "...just want to watch the world burn." and the other categories are far too restrictive.

RPGuru1331
2008-12-02, 11:25 PM
...ok, how is that a response to the quoted statement? He was proving the theory was incorrect via contradiction which is the most basic and well-used proving/disproving device in any form of logical argument. You're statement doesn't end, it trails off never making a point. Yes, I'm sure there isn't a name for R160 G0 B0 (except that code right there, but I'll overlook that for the sake of the analogy) and it is not red so you can't call it red (since red is R255 G0 B0 on the 256-bit scale) but then you end you're statement. There is no argument in the above quote!
[/rant]
Okay, I'll lay it out more clearly; That was a case of splitting hairs. Someone who is not a incredibly detail oriented with graphics is going to see them and say "It's pretty much the same thing".

elliott20
2008-12-02, 11:27 PM
yeah, let's not forget, we all are playing roleplaying games. This means that at some level, we all probably want a little bit of each. The degree of which might be different and that's probably how we're getting this whole priority of game features thing.

This, however, does not denote whether said interests are mutually exclusive or merely a blend of each. That is, while yes, a system can make priorities for one type of game play, it doesn't mean that it is then unable to cater to a different style through it's mechanics and setting. After all, that is what we are talking about right? We're talking about how the mechanics and setting are conducive to a certain style of play. Some games WILL be better for certain styles of play, for sure. (i.e. D&D is good for gamist, Dogs of the Vineyard is good for Narrativist) but there are plenty of systems that go in between. (Spirits of the Century has narrativist bent with aspects, but also has a certain gamist element to it through it's use of stunts, skills, and crossed with aspects)

the question, once again, is exclusivity vs. inclusion and the degrees of each.

Ethdred
2008-12-03, 05:35 AM
Okay, I'll lay it out more clearly; That was a case of splitting hairs. Someone who is not a incredibly detail oriented with graphics is going to see them and say "It's pretty much the same thing".

Eh? How is flatly contradicting you the same as splitting hairs?

Samurai Jill
2008-12-03, 05:36 AM
If that doesn't qualify, can you give an example of a game that actually is narrativist and not just illusionism?
Yes- Dogs in the Vineyard. It contains explicit warnings against having any fixed expectations about how the story turns out, because the game, in essence, revolves around creating story- not just 'telling it.' That is the essence of narrativism.

In other words, it is something Ron Edwards did not say. It's just your interpretation.

Story Now requires that at least one engaging issue or problematic feature of human existence be addressed in the process of role-playing. "Address" means:

*- Establishing the issue's Explorative expressions in the game-world, "fixing" them into imaginary place.

*- Developing the issue as a source of continued conflict, perhaps changing any number of things about it, such as which side is being taken by a given character, or providing more depth to why the antagonistic side of the issue exists at all.

*- Resolving the issue through the decisions of the players of the protagonists, as well as various features and constraints of the circumstances.

Can it really be that easy? Yes, Narrativism is that easy. The Now refers to the people, during actual play, focusing their imagination to create those emotional moments of decision-making and action, and paying attention to one another as they do it. To do that, they relate to "the story" very much as authors do for novels, as playwrights do for plays, and screenwriters do for film at the creative moment or moments. Think of the Now as meaning, "in the moment," or "engaged in doing it," in terms of input and emotional feedback among one another. The Now also means "get to it," in which "it" refers to any Explorative element or combination of elements that increases the enjoyment of that issue I'm talking about.

There cannot be any "the story" during Narrativist play, because to have such a thing (fixed plot or pre-agreed theme) is to remove the whole point: the creative moments of addressing the issue(s). Story Now has a great deal in common with Step On Up, particularly in the social expectation to contribute, but in this case the real people's attention is directed toward one another's insights toward the issue, rather than toward strategy and guts.
http://www.indie-rpgs.com/_articles/narr_essay.html

I play to tell a story. A story where players are the main protagonists. If that's the most important part, and everything else plays second fiddle, then what are the reasons the game might NOT be narrativist?
Because you are writing the story, and not the players. They're just improvising the lines for prescribed roles.

seems to me people can't even agree on the definition of the three aspects...
I am sorry if I have not been as clear as I should have been in the intro, but I honestly feel that a more careful reading would have cleared up some of these misunderstandings, particularly if people were to go and read the original articles.



While the fact that WFRP is a popular game would seem to be sufficient demonstration on its own...
Not even close. WoD and D&D 3e have both been pretty popular- their designs are also incoherent and cause no end of frustration in many groups. The debates over 4e are a perfect example of this- balancing the classes, to ensure satisfying and hard-to-break tactical play, necessitated abandoning the simulationist aspects of prior D&D rule sets. It's not that the designers simply 'forgot' about those aspects or 'sorely neglected' them- they were deliberately omitted as a conscious and well-informed design choice.

Now, I haven't played WFRP myself, but two words demonstrate the flaws of 3e: 'Fighters' and 'Wizards.' Some of this- probably most- is down to just plain shoddy design, but it also owes something to misguided efforts at simulationism- fantasy wizards are sterotypically weak as young apprentices and advance to become godlike in power, relative to standard warriors. BAD IDEA FOR GAMIST PLAY.

Here is a good measure of whether a system is satisfying- how often do people feel they NEED come up with patch rules, or explicitly forbid use of certain game content *cough *polymorph* *cough* in order to attain some semblance of satisfying play for a particular group? That's a sign of incoherent design.

I think GNS is useful in one, and only one, area: deciding on and designing systems. Simply, something like GURPS works better for simulationist, while D&D is primarily Gamist. Both can do Narrative rather well. That doesn't mean that D&D can't do simulation, or that GURPS can't become a "game." It just means that certain systems work better for certain things.
That's more or less the point, yes. You can coerce any given system to fulfill a given role- you'll just wind up rewriting most of the rules in a hit-and-miss process that wastes precious time.

I mean, IIRC, the D&D DMG itself explicitly refers to 2 major playing style- one with plenty of unequivocally evil monsters where you break down doors and loot dungeon lairs, and the other where you have lots of dialogue, political intrigue and moral ambiguity- in which case it mentions you may want to throw out and simplify many of the rules. Isn't this a frank confession that the D&D rules simply don't work very well for non-gamist play?


The last thing, while probably one of the most relevant aspects of gamemastering - creating a result which is desirable for every participant - is just completely neglected in the whole GNS theory, if not even sabotaged.

Incoherent design
Unfortunately, functional or nearly-functional hybrids are far less common than simply incoherent RPG designs.

The "lesser," although still common, dysfunctional trend is found among the imitators of the late-1970s release of AD&D, composed of vague and scattered Simulationism mixed with vague and scattered Gamism. Warhammer is the most successful of these. Small-press publishers pump out these games constantly, offering little new besides ever-more baroque mechanics and a highly-customized Setting (Hahlmabrea, Pelicar, Legendary Lives, Of Gods and Men, Fifth Cycle, Darkurthe: Legends, and more). Another, similar trend is the never-ending stream of GURPS imitators.

The "dominant" dysfunctional system is immediately recognizable, to the extent of being considered by many to be what role-playing is: a vaguely Gamist combat and reward system, Simulationist resolution in general (usually derived from GURPS, Cyberpunk, or Champions 4th edition), a Simulationist context for play (Situation in the form of published metaplot), deceptive Narrativist Color, and incoherent Simulationist/Narrativist Character creation rules. This combination has been represented by some of the major players in role-playing marketing, and has its representative for every period of role-playing since the early 1980s.

*- AD&D2 pioneered the approach in the middle 1980s, particularly the addition of metaplot with the Dragonlance series.
*- Champions, through its 3rd edition, exemplified a mix of Gamist and Narrativist "driftable" design, but with its 4th edition in the very late 1980s, the system lost all Metagame content and became the indigestible mix outlined above.
*- Vampire, in the early 1990s, offered a mix of Simulationism and Gamism in combat resolution, but a mix of Narrativism and Simulationism out of combat, as well as bringing in Character Exploration.

The design is hugely imitated, ranging from Earthdawn, Kult, and In Nomine, to the mid-1990s "shotgun attack" of Deadlands, Legend of the Five Rings, and Seventh Sea.

All of these games are based on The Great Impossible Thing to Believe Before Breakfast: that the GM may be defined as the author of the ongoing story, and, simultaneously, the players may determine the actions of the characters as the story's protagonists. This is impossible. It's even absurd. However, game after game, introduction after introduction, and discussion after discussion, it is repeated.

Consider the players who were excited about the vampire concept for role-playing. What happens when they try to play Vampire: the Masquerade? Well, they try to Believe the Impossible Thing, and in application, the results are inevitable.

*- The play drifts toward some application of Narrativism, which requires substantial effort and agreement among all the people involved, as well as editing out substantial portions of the game's texts and system.
*- The play drifts toward an application of Simulationism in which the GM dominates the characters' significant actions, and the players contribute only to characterization. This is called illusionism, in which the players are unaware of or complicit with the extent to which they are manipulated. Illusionism is not necessarily dysfunctional, and if Character or Situation Exploration is the priority, then it can be a lot of fun. Unknown Armies, Feng Shui, and Call of Cthulhu all facilitate extremely functional illusionism. However, it is not and can never be "story creation" on the part of all participants, and if the game is incoherent, illusionism requires considerable effort to edit the system and texts into shape.
*- Most likely, however, the players and GM carry out an ongoing power-struggle over the actions of the characters, with the integrity of "my guy" held as a club on the behalf of the former and the integrity of "the story" held as a club on behalf of the latter.

The players of the vampire example are especially screwed if they have Narrativist leanings and try to use Vampire: the Masquerade. The so-called "Storyteller" design in White Wolf games is emphatically not Narrativist, but it is billed as such, up to and including encouraging subcultural snobbery against other Simulationist play without being much removed from it. The often-repeated distinction between "roll-playing" and "role-playing" is nothing more nor less than Exploration of System and Exploration of Character - either of which, when prioritized, is Simulationism. Thus our players, instead of taking the "drift" option (which would work), may well apply themselves more and more diligently to the metaplot and other non-Narrativist elements in the mistaken belief that they are emphasizing "story." The prognosis for the enjoyment of such play is not favorable.

One may ask, if this design is so horribly dysfunctional, why is it so popular? The answer requires an economic perspective on RPGs, in addition to the conceptual and functional one outlined in this essay, and is best left for discussion.

The one true game
What a wonderful ideal: an RPG design that satisfies any participant, with no stress, no adjustment of any part, no potential for interpersonal disagreement, and no unnecessary preparation. The "universal game."

Bluntly, it's a moronic concept, existing only to whet frustrated consumers' appetites for an upcoming product. GNS goals differ among people, preferred variants of each GNS mode differ among people, and system mechanics necessarily facilitate a limited range of these preferences, or facilitate nothing at all. All of us would do well to look in the mirror every morning and state, "There is no universal role-playing game."
http://www.indie-rpgs.com/articles/6/

Grey Paladin
2008-12-03, 05:52 AM
So, what GNS theory claims 'cannot be', is simply more difficult to produce?

I seem to be missing something, an Engine may offer more built-in support for a certain style, but that does not mean it cannot be used for all of them.

Sure, a 'perfect' Engine which attempts to support all styles will crumble under its own weight, but an engine which *allows* them all and leaves the supporting to the Soft is very much possible- it will be inferior to Specialized engines in unsupported areas but will run nonetheless.

The way I understood GNS (or rather, the TFM) is not as much as System profiling, but psychological profiling of the main motivations found within the hearts of the audience (Timmy johnny spike thingy).

Tengu_temp
2008-12-03, 05:59 AM
The "incoherent design" section convinced me - the effort Ron Edwards puts into thinking up absurd theories should instead be used by him on pulling his head out of his arse.

Satyr
2008-12-03, 06:02 AM
What a wonderful ideal: an RPG design that satisfies any participant, with no stress, no adjustment of any part, no potential for interpersonal disagreement, and no unnecessary preparation. The "universal game."

Bluntly, it's a moronic concept, existing only to whet frustrated consumers' appetites for an upcoming product.

As I said. When it doesn't fit into the almighty GNS theory dogma, it must be a 'moronic concept.' If you do not comply to the Theory, you are having wrong fun (or actually you don't have fun at al, but because you are so moronic that you refuse to accept the only true Theory, you are probably also too moronic to recognize that it is completely impossible to enjoy that crap you like to play, you savage heretic.

Samurai Jill
2008-12-03, 06:17 AM
A haradrim is a natural archer and has the invaluable knowledge of Mumak rearing and handling. On the other hand the wizard has a vast amount of divine power to call upon and destroy his foes, however, power spells come and a great cost of corruption. Technically, the wizard could've nuked the kingdom they were attacking, but that would have corrupted him beyond his own control and fallen into the urges of power addiction like Sauron, Faenor, Saruman, etc. before him.
This will lead to Calvinball play as players look for loopholes in the codes of conduct. And it's still not simulationist- Gandalf never violated his code of conduct and was still, head and shoulders, the single most powerful member of the fellowship. Calculate the 'social advantages' of BEING A TRANSMORTAL DEMIGOD. Boromir was more powerful than the hobbits, Aragorn was in likelihood more powerful than Boromir, and Legolas was probably more powerful than Aragorn. Tolkien made no attempt to redress this imbalance, because character effectiveness was not his criterion for character significance- in fact, it would in many ways have undermined the basic premise of his story. (And I won't even get started on the simulationist objections to having mumak-riding haradrim working alongside noldorin elves.)

I'm sorry, but you have very simply distorted Tolkien's representations to service the Gamist agenda- and you're still leaving out the hobbits. That's nothing to be ashamed of- well there's a litle bit of shame, because you left out hobbits- but there's no point to denying those changes either.


-Gamism. Itīs about the competition. Against the other players, against the DM, it doesnīt matter. Its about having a challenge and overcoming it. We have a problem, we solve it. We try to be more competent/badass than the bad guys/each other.

-Simulationism. How faithful the ruleset is to "reality", reality being either the real world, or a fictional universe. Stuff like Hitpoints vs Wounds. Or whether a swordsman can confidently fight against a gunman or not. Or how much more awesome elves are than humans, in say, Eragon: the RPG (dear god, I hope that doesnīt actually exist)

-Narrativism. Basically, itīs about making a good story. The players are expected to move the story, while the DM reacts to the playerīs actions by determining the outcomes and consequences of said actions within the world, and presenting them to the players. The players are the protagonists of a (hopefully good) story, and at the same time, co-authors of it.
That's pretty well entirely correct.

Gamism covers how the players and DM interact with each other, within the framework offered by the rules...
Simulationism is "simply" about how detailed these rules are...
...Narrativism is about making a good story as you play.

1. Now you've lost it. That has nothing to do with any GNS mode- that's simply 'the rules'. Gamism is concerned with fostering balanced competition and tactical challenges for the players. The GM and/or other players might not be 'competing' at all for other GNS modes.

2. Simulationism is often associated with detailed and elaborate rule-consultation, but not intrinsically tied to them. Fidelity to an external model is what defines simulationism.

3. If the game is explicitly concerned with making that story up as you go, then yes, that is narrativism. It can't be simply predefined before you sit down to play.


Gamey: A Gamey rule is one that is intended to create interesting mechanical effects.
No No No No. A gamist rule is one intended to foster balanced tactical competition. I have honestly tried to be as clear as possible on this point. Balance is CRITICAL to making this work, or gamist-inclined players will simply select a few effective tactics and use them without variation- which verges on Breaking the Game.

Emulationy:An Emulationy rule is one that is intended to create the feel of an external inspiration -- be it reality or a specific genre or work of external fiction.

Narativey:A Narativey rule is one that is intended to determine where the plot goes from here. Such rules divorce the characters being played from the players who are changing the Narration of the collective story.
'Emulationy' describes Simulationism quite well, but what you describe as 'Narrativey' could actually be either Narrativism or Simulationism, just slanted toward exploration of character- the focused address of premise is critical for true narrativism, or you just wind up with Ouija-Board Role-Play.

macd21
2008-12-03, 06:18 AM
WFRP is Nar? Dat's a laugh. A good one. It's Sim (To WHF), and really, really gamist, but the two Warhammer RPGs aren't Narratavist. At freakin' all.

Wrong. WFRP includes a narrativist mechanic - Fate/Fortune points, which provide PCs with a small amount of control over the narrative. It isn't much, but it does help promote the narrative premise that the PCs are heroes, rather than normal people who will probably die in their first fight against a goblin, which would be the result if the game was totally simulationist. So WFRP may be 45% sim, 45% game and only 10% nar, but it is still a mix of GNS and doesn't suffer for it.

The point is, GNS theory doesn't really help with game design. The only thing it is remotely useful for is to discuss the nature of existing games/campaigns and it isn't very good at that. Far more important to a game designer (and people looking for a particular type of game) are qualities such as genre, theme and mood. Players who like horror games will probably play such a game whether it was designed with G, N or S play in mind. On the other hand, focusing too much on GNS can result in good ideas or mechanics being ddiscarded because it doesn't fit GNS design structure (if WFRP was purely sim, the races would be completely unbalanced and the PCs wouldn't have Fate or Fortune points).

Samurai Jill
2008-12-03, 07:13 AM
This I think is why GNS gives me headaches... Edwards at one point was claiming that since evoking a theme was narrative play, then simulating a theme = narrativism. This allows him to classify simulationist games that he likes as narrativist while still turning up his nose at simulationist games he doesn't like as being non-narrativist.

Thus, Call of Cthulhu, a brilliant game that simulates H.P. Lovecraft fiction and/or horror movies, is narrativist.
I'm sure that the theory has undergone modifications over time, but CoC does not support players-as-authors, which means it does not function as narrativist play. Moreover, the rules tend to ensure that all the players wind up giving the same response to the underlying theme- dread and horror, rather than, say, fascination and embrace. Remember, after all, that Lovecraft only really wrote one story, simply changing around minor details like the cast, setting and order of events (it's a good story, so no-one minds,) but CoC exists, in essence, to reproduce that template. Thus, it is simulationist.



Well it does sound sort of narrativist. Now what would you call a campaign in which the party has nearly limitless options, including fighting, joining forces with, undercutting or ignoring the main villians of the setting? In addition the main characters (the party) can take an active role in changing the world, even capturing, taming and bringing velociraptors from a far off "lost world" back to the Shire (if halflings). What would you call it?
If they are devoted to addressing premise- a particular thematic question which characters define themselves around- then it can be narrativism. If not, but you are devoted to faithfully reproducing a particular setting or realism itself, you have either Ouija-Board Role-Play or Illusionism. If not, but you strive provide the players with a satisfying series of balanced tactical challenges, you have Gamism. If none of the above, then you have incoherent play, where players have no real idea what they're supposed to be doing.



Only true if you're speaking of railroads. In many games, player choice and outcomes of conflict resolution build the story.
If there is a predefined plot, authored by only person, I can guarantee that Illusionism is in play- in which case, again, the players are simply provided fine-scale details and colour- improvisational theatre, as Grey Paladin puts it.

I'm curious though, Edwards discarded GNS as inadequate and came up with The Big Model to replace it. Why continue to defend GNS?
Because GNS remains an integral component of The Big Model. You can't understand the latter without grasping the former.



If you read the OP, which is the definition I think we're all supposed to be going by, then narrativism means theplot most certainly is the result - the result of the player who exerts most control over it. So the idea that the story can be written by all members of the group (including the GM) equally doesn't fit into this theory.
It IS the theory! And it certainly DOES work! There are many RPGs primarily concerned with nothing else- Dogs in the Vineyard, Sorceror, My Life With Master, Hero Wars, The Whispering Vault and (although you might not guess it,) Burning Wheel and The Riddle of Steel.

The whole point to narrativism is that NO ONE PERSON AUTHORS THE PLOT. The process of play consists of determining that plot, as a collaborative group activity, with thematic coherence enforced through address of premise. It is entirely possible for a bad story to result, but that is the standard by which narrativist play is judged.

Honestly, 'good stories can only come from one person' strikes me as supremely elitist.

Samurai Jill
2008-12-03, 07:36 AM
So, what GNS theory claims 'cannot be', is simply more difficult to produce?

I seem to be missing something, an Engine may offer more built-in support for a certain style, but that does not mean it cannot be used for all of them.
Again, from the same essay:

However, the term "universal" is also used for a rather sensible and functional RPG design option, which is much better described by the term general. A general game design holds constant one or two of the listed elements of role-playing (Character, Setting, Situation, System, Color) and provides guidelines for customizing the other elements. GURPS and Fudge are perfect examples, as are the plethora of their imitators: System is held constant and made very clear; Setting and Color are specified prior to play by the GM and similarly made clear and specific; and then Character and Situation are customized.
Of course, this approach does still require extra work on the part of the players- but at least it's up front about it, and doesn't pretend to run straight out of the box with 'no assembly required.' I think that's similar to the idea you describe. But the System itself will likely still be subject to many of the normal GNS constraints.


The way I understood GNS (or rather, the TFM) is not as much as System profiling, but psychological profiling of the main motivations found within the hearts of the audience (Timmy johnny spike thingy).
It is absolutely a profiling of player psychologies, (or at least agendas at a given time, since some players can shift from one to the other,) but there are certain rule sets which will support a given agenda and others that won't.

And there are many, many examples of other conflict between GNS modes.


Let's take an example of simulationist-realist and gamist conflict- a simple observation on gritty combat mechanics: I mean, what happens when you actually take an arrow to the gut?- Well, assuming you don't perish instantly or within a minute or two, then you die horribly of septic shock within the week. How effectively can skill alone protect you from arrows in the gut against remotely challenging opponents? Not nearly well enough to reliably survive more than a couple of encounters. Not much basis for a campaign there. You can fix this by really distorting probabilities, and/or adding metagame mechanics, and/or adding high-magic to the mix for healing purposes- but all violate the stark realist-simulationist aesthetic you were originally aiming for.

Or, take an example of gamist-narrativist conflict. Let's say that characters A and B are in the middle of a dungeon crawl. A happens to be hopelessly smitten with love for B, will not directly compete with her for resources, and will favour her preferentially for tactical support. That is the players response to underlying premise, and being asked to compromise this decision for the sake of tactical efficiency is deprotagonisation by peer pressure.

Or, take an example of simulationist-narrativist conflict. You have detailed pre-play character creation that severely specialises what your character can realistically achieve on both physical and psychological levels, combined with a comprehensively detailed, seamless and conflict-rich setting that severely curtails the circumstances under which those capabilities can be plausibly employed. -Taken together, these will very likely lock your character into certain roles and straitjacket the address of premise before play has even begun. Players' influence over theme becomes minimal.

And difficulties like these crop up all over the place- there's no way to get around them without significant tradeoffs.

It is completely irrelevant in which category the GNS - or any other such theory - would pigeonehole a setting, system or style. This is a theoretical meta level and macrocosmos that rarely if ever interfere with the specific problems of an individual gaming group.
...Well, I'm certainly glad I don't now have to spend two-and-a-half years reworking 3e D&D to suit my tastes.

Thurbane
2008-12-03, 07:43 AM
I agree with the first few replies. While an interesting intellectual exercise, GNS theory has very little bearing on actual gaming experiences.

As far as I'm concerned, the only thing that GNS really proves is that dissecting anything to the Nth degree can make it unfun. I've been involved in great, fun RPG sessions for well over 20 years - they were great long before I ever heard of GNS theory, and they will be great for a long time to come. :smallwink:

Matthew
2008-12-03, 07:49 AM
...Well, I'm certainly glad I don't now have to spend two-and-a-half years reworking 3e D&D to suit my tastes.

You may be missing out on one of the most fun aspects of RPGs.

macd21
2008-12-03, 07:58 AM
Let's take an example of simulationist-realist and gamist conflict- a simple observation on gritty combat mechanics: I mean, what happens when you actually take an arrow to the gut?- Well, assuming you don't perish instantly or within a minute or two, then you die horribly of septic shock within the week. How effectively can skill alone protect you from arrows in the gut against remotely challenging opponents? Not nearly well enough to reliably survive more than a couple of encounters. Not much basis for a campaign there. You can fix this by really distorting probabilities, and/or adding metagame mechanics, and/or adding high-magic to the mix for healing purposes- but all violate the stark realist-simulationist aesthetic you were originally aiming for.

Or, take an example of gamist-narrativist conflict. Let's say that characters A and B are in the middle of a dungeon crawl. A happens to be hopelessly smitten with love for B, will not directly compete with her for resources, and will favour her preferentially for tactical support. That is the players response to underlying premise, and being asked to compromise this decision for the sake of tactical efficiency is deprotagonisation by peer pressure.

Or, take an example of simulationist-narrativist conflict. You have detailed pre-play character creation that severely specialises what your character can realistically achieve on both physical and psychological levels, combined with a comprehensively detailed, seamless and conflict-rich setting that severely curtails the circumstances under which those capabilities can be plausibly employed. -Taken together, these will very likely lock your character into certain roles and straitjacket the address of premise before play has even begun. Players' influence over theme becomes minimal.

And the best RPGs are those which can handle all of the above problems without falling apart. Simulationist - gamist problem: create a game that is has a gritty and realistic combat system, but not too realistic. Gamist - narrativist conflict: don't have a game where the party will fall apart if some of the players decide to make decisions based on personal motivations instead of tactical ones. Simulationist - narrativist: many players like realistic settings with realistic consequences for their actions, but still want to feel that they can have a major influence on the world around them. So you give them a little leeway.



And difficulties like these crop up all over the place- there's no way to get around them without significant tradeoffs.


And the counter to that is that the tradeoffs aren't significant... or even tradeoffs at all. Plenty of perfectly fine (even superior) games have been created without paying any attention to GNS theory at all. And a game that focuses heavily on G, N or S isn't necessarily a good game. It may appeal to a small number of gamers, but others will just find it boring or annoying. Those other gamers could have been brought into the game without sacrificing all of the elements that made it appealing to the first group.

Raum
2008-12-03, 08:10 AM
If there is a predefined plot, authored by only person, I can guarantee that Illusionism is in play- in which case, again, the players are simply provided fine-scale details and colour- improvisational theatre, as Grey Paladin puts it.Sigh, so how do you account for the games when there is no predetermined plot?

Theories, in the scientific sense, are invalidated if they can be shown as untrue in even a single case. It's fairly amusing until the arguments get repetitive though. May all your games be awesome...even if they weren't built with GNS in mind. :)

Lord Tataraus
2008-12-03, 10:30 AM
This will lead to Calvinball play as players look for loopholes in the codes of conduct. And it's still not simulationist- Gandalf never violated his code of conduct and was still, head and shoulders, the single most powerful member of the fellowship. Calculate the 'social advantages' of BEING A TRANSMORTAL DEMIGOD. Boromir was more powerful than the hobbits, Aragorn was in likelihood more powerful than Boromir, and Legolas was probably more powerful than Aragorn. Tolkien made no attempt to redress this imbalance, because character effectiveness was not his criterion for character significance- in fact, it would in many ways have undermined the basic premise of his story. (And I won't even get started on the simulationist objections to having mumak-riding haradrim working alongside noldorin elves.)
First of all, I never mentioned anything about a code of conduct for the wizard, corruption of magic is the balancing factor. Gandalf didn't go nova because it would have corrupted him which causes one to be forced to commit urges i.e. lose control and become evil. The social advantages of being a Maiar is that most people don't trust you...yeah, that's an advantage. Also, I think you are confusing "power" with "physical strength" or "combative ability" which it is neither. Hobbits are resistant to corruption (a huge boost in the Tolkien world) and are extremely stealthy. Aragon was in no way more powerful than Boromir other than RP-wise; both had character flaws but of different kinds. Legolas was equal in strength, but more graceful/dexterous and suffered from the elvish social restrictions and curses; if you need examples read The Silmarillion for a bunch of them. Lastly, I'm sure I mentioned this was during the 4th Age, thus the elf would of course be a Sindar, not a Noldor. The haradrim wasn't picked up until they got to harad anyway so geography restrictions don't really apply.


I'm sorry, but you have very simply distorted Tolkien's representations to service the Gamist agenda- and you're still leaving out the hobbits. That's nothing to be ashamed of- well there's a litle bit of shame, because you left out hobbits- but there's no point to denying those changes either.
Wait, I left out hobbits? Are you talking about my example of why the wizard and haradrim are balanced in a gamist perspective and how it is supported by a simulationist perspective? If so, I just explained above, if you are saying I didn't allow hobbits or there weren't any in the party let me show you the list again (with more clarification): a Wizard, a Dunedain, a Sindar Elf, a Haradrim, a Hobbit, and a Dwarf.

Kalirren
2008-12-03, 04:35 PM
It's good that we have a thread to clear up what Ron Edwards means (or fails to mean) by "gamism", "narrativism", and "simulationism", since I've seen of late several threads where people have demonstrated a complete lack of knowledge as to how these terms are often used. Still, as RE uses them, "Gamism" and "Simulationism" are meaningful as words, but "Narrativism" is very broad and comprehensive, so much so that the Ron Edwards corpus often boils down to a semantic strawman of the following motivic form:

"Gamism and Simulationism are well-defined creative agendas."
"Narrativism is responsive to the demands of individual players, and Narrativist techniques are where all of the technical magic of creating a engaging narrative happens."
"Hence a predominantly Narrativist style of play is more encompassing than and superior to a predominantly Gamist or a predominantly Simulationist style."

The problem with the above is obviously that there are comparatively few ways to be "Gamist" or "Simulationist" as Ron Edwards uses the term, but many, many ways to be "Narrativist", and that the RE corpus emphasizes the Narrativism of any game much more than it emphasizes the Gamism or Simulationism of the same game. As it's been said many times before, not just in this thread, almost any engaging game will exhibit aspects of Gamism, Narrativism, and Simulationism. It's a strawman. He's comparing one or two examples of possible gaming methods with the entire idea of being responsive to the players' demands.

In addition, my personal experience has lent itself to several observations that simply contradict the predictions of the GNS model.

1) It is difficult, but not impossible to design a rulesset that is inherently agreeable with Gamist and Simulationist interests that can be used for Narrativist gameplay. This is because Simulationism is largely an issue of rules whereas Narrativism is largely an issue of the response of story structure to players' characters' motivations.

2) It is almost always possible to kludge any system into use for Narrativist-style play, even if it means disregarding large chunks of the system and shifting into freeform gear.

3) My gaming group seems to be in El Dorado.

I conclude that RE's argument is thus vacuous and the GNS model and classification unuseful.

The problem I see with both the GNS model/Big Model and the TFM from which it was inspired is that they don't take into account (and people who know me are probably going to say, oh, not this again) the fact that the gaming style/creative agenda is a product of the social dynamic of the gaming group and the interests of the individuals who make up that group. That's really just common sense, which many people take for granted when arguing about these things, but forget to explicitly recognize when they make these models of RP.

In particular, the Big Model seems to have the social contract in the smallest box, whereas it logically has its place as the biggest box, the one that contains not only the game but the personal relationships that allow the game to happen in the first place and determine to a large extent the charateristics that the game initially takes on.

Samurai Jill
2008-12-04, 06:52 AM
Sigh, so how do you account for the games when there is no predetermined plot?
Again, you either get Ouija-Board Role-Play or full-blown Narrativism. The distinction between the two is devotion to address of premise. (It might be narrativism with simulationism in a secondary and subordinate role, as is the case with Burning Wheel (thanks to artha) or The Riddle of Steel (thanks to spiritual attributes.))


And the best RPGs are those which can handle all of the above problems without falling apart. Simulationist - gamist problem: create a game that is has a gritty and realistic combat system, but not too realistic...
That is primarily gamist with simulationism in a secondary and subordinate role, which is perfectly possible, as I've outlined. But don't pretend that severe compromises haven't been made at simulationism's expense when they obviously have.

Gamist - narrativist conflict: don't have a game where the party will fall apart if some of the players decide to make decisions based on personal motivations instead of tactical ones.
How, exactly? The fundamental problem here is that the pursuit of tactical advantage and the pursuit of thematic integrity often demand fundamentally different responses from the player. You can't satisfy both- so pick one consistently during design or the players will pick one consistently during play in a way you can't predict. I'll come to a larger and better documented example in a minute.

Simulationist - narrativist: many players like realistic settings with realistic consequences for their actions, but still want to feel that they can have a major influence on the world around them. So you give them a little leeway.
Narrativist play demands a LOT of leeway! A little leeway basically means you're using illusionism! Narrativist play simply does not work without substantial 'freedom of movement' on a thematic scale.

I mean, here is another classic case of GNS conflict in play (
http://www.giantitp.com/articles/tll307KmEm4H9k6efFP.html) as a result of incoherent design, courtesy of our own Rich Burlew:

Decide to React Differently: Have you ever had a party break down into fighting over the actions of one of their members? Has a character ever threatened repeatedly to leave the party? Often, intraparty fighting boils down to one player declaring, "That's how my character would react." Heck, often you'll be the one saying it; it's a common reaction when alignments or codes of ethics clash...

...Here's another example: In a campaign I DM'd, the party's bard lifted a magical sword behind the back of the party's Lawful Good monk. The monk had basically decided that the bodies of several fallen knights would be buried without looting, and rather than argue, the bard just grabbed the sword. The bad news was, the sword was cursed; it was the blade that had belonged to a ghost that roamed the castle, and whenever the bard drew it, the ghost materialized and attacked him (and only him). Eventually, the bard 'fessed up that he had stolen the sword. The monk (and the monk's player) became furious, and declared that he could no longer travel with the bard. Either the bard had to leave, or he would. It became a huge argument between characters and players, and it was entirely unnecessary.
The fundamental problem here isn't that the monk's player is some kind of an ass, the problem is that he's a narrativist-inclined player who's been duped by the alignment system into thinking that D&D is a narrativist game, or at the very least that he can address character-based premise without things falling apart. The problem is that you've got an apparently-gamist-with-simulationist-leanings GM (Rich) running a game with an apparently-narrativist-leaning monk player, and the frictions that result are inevitable.

This kind of situation is not an inevitable fact of all role-playing. It is a dysfunction that can be minimised through coherent and informed design. In a narrativist game, this kind of conflict would be supported through an emphasis on dynamic plot structure and facilities for handling interpersonal conflict (up to and including methods for changing another PC's mind.) But if the players are fixated on the address of premise and IC/OOC separation, then the pursuit of tactical advantage becomes almost meaningless (note the monk has no interest in improved resources from looting, even by proxy.) Gamism thus becomes impossible- it is simply prohibitively difficult to keep two largely unrelated priorities in your head at once and satisfy both when they frequently demand different decisions. This is part of why the alignment system has been drastically de-emphasised in 4e.

Another useful application of this concept involves accepting story hooks your DM gives to you. Try to never just say, "My character isn't interested in that adventure." A lot of people mistake this for good roleplaying, because you are asserting your character's personality. Wrong. Good roleplaying should never bring the game to a screeching halt. One of your jobs as a player is to come up with a reason why your character would be interested in a plot. After all, your personality is entirely in your hands, not the DM's. Come up with a reason why the adventure (or the reward) might appeal to you, no matter how esoteric or roundabout the reasoning.
This is all very useful advice when you're running a gamist campaign, but if you're trying to encourage actual protagonism, it would be an utter travesty to suggest anything of the sort during narrativist play. Rich goes on to chide the paladin and druid classes for fostering this kind of dysfunction, but the problem isn't the class descriptions themselves, the problem is that incoherent design has landed narrativist premise-adressing in entirely the wrong game for them. And again, this kind of conflict is 100% predicted by GNS theory. If you want to avoid problems like these, learn to prioritise within that framework.

Samurai Jill
2008-12-04, 07:52 AM
First of all, I never mentioned anything about a code of conduct for the wizard, corruption of magic is the balancing factor. Gandalf didn't go nova because it would have corrupted him which causes one to be forced to commit urges i.e. lose control and become evil. The social advantages of being a Maiar is that most people don't trust you...yeah, that's an advantage.
Apparently so, given that he was permitted automatic audience with the most powerful men in Minas Tirith and Rohan. There's also no indication in Tolkien's work that magic fundamentally corrupts any more than any other exercise of power, and I doubt Gandalf was holding back against the Balrog.

And even with all these supposed restrictions, he states outright that he's effectively invincible as far as the other party members are concerned.

And what if the character DOES become evil? How is that an automatic disadvantage in tactical terms- without use of metagame mechanics? -Are you claiming that haradrim or hobbits are going to be automatically pure and virtuous by comparison? I mean, compare the relative strengths of Saruman and a haradrim nobleman: The latter gets to- what- ride an elephant?- maybe field a few dozen attendants, and is good with a sword and bow? The former gets to field 10,000 orcs, control people with his voice, alter the weather at will, and can bulk-manufacture high explosives.
Balanced- right.

Also, I think you are confusing "power" with "physical strength" or "combative ability" which it is neither.
I mean 'ability to mechanically influence events'. This could mean physical strength and other combat prowess, grace, stealth and agility, or significant social advantages, insofar as combat, infiltration, and dialogue are equally prominent arenas for coherent tactical competition (which they would need to be.)

Hobbits are resistant to corruption (a huge boost in the Tolkien world) and are extremely stealthy. Aragon was in no way more powerful than Boromir other than RP-wise; both had character flaws but of different kinds. Legolas was equal in strength, but more graceful/dexterous and suffered from the elvish social restrictions and curses; if you need examples read The Silmarillion for a bunch of them. Lastly, I'm sure I mentioned this was during the 4th Age, thus the elf would of course be a Sindar, not a Noldor. The haradrim wasn't picked up until they got to harad anyway so geography restrictions don't really apply.
Elves are also extremely stealthy, gain significant social advantages thanks to appearance and grace, and have the benefit of several centuries' learning at their disposal. 'RP-wise' has nothing to do with tactical balance. Social restrictions mean Calvinball. Again. And other classes are just as likely to be similarly burdened- rangers have an unsavoury reputation and many kingdoms generally don't like foreigners of any stripe.

Now, if you're changing a lot of things around under the 'it's-the-4th-age pretense', then that's fine- but it basically means you're making things up to suit your primarily-gamist agenda, which, again, is not simulationism.

I mean, you can take a look at two separate approaches to the problem- Lord of the Rings Online (solidly gamist) and Burning Wheel, which takes a genuinely simulationist approach to elves, dwarves and orcs as depicted in tolkien's works (but it doesn't remotely pretend to balance them.)



It's good that we have a thread to clear up what Ron Edwards means (or fails to mean) by "gamism", "narrativism", and "simulationism", since I've seen of late several threads where people have demonstrated a complete lack of knowledge as to how these terms are often used. Still, as RE uses them, "Gamism" and "Simulationism" are meaningful as words, but "Narrativism" is very broad and comprehensive, so much so that the Ron Edwards corpus often boils down to a semantic strawman of the following motivic form:

"Gamism and Simulationism are well-defined creative agendas."
"Narrativism is responsive to the demands of individual players, and Narrativist techniques are where all of the technical magic of creating a engaging narrative happens."
"Hence a predominantly Narrativist style of play is more encompassing than and superior to a predominantly Gamist or a predominantly Simulationist style."
...And where does he say this, exactly? As far as I can tell, RE has certainly bent over backwards to give each mode a fair shake in his essays.

There's nothing broad about narrativism as I understand it. It has two main conditions-
1. Address of premise as a focus of play and unifying factor.
2. Collaborative authorship of story.

All 3 GNS modes are 'responsive to the demands of individual players', the difference is that the players are seeking different forms of creative expression.

As it's been said many times before, not just in this thread, almost any engaging game will exhibit aspects of Gamism, Narrativism, and Simulationism.
You might as well argue that every colour will exhibit portions of Red, Green and Blue, therefore Red, Green and Blue light are irrelevant to colour theory, and all colours are 'equally primary'.

1) It is difficult, but not impossible to design a rules set that is inherently agreeable with Gamist and Simulationist interests that can be used for Narrativist gameplay. This is because Simulationism is largely an issue of rules whereas Narrativism is largely an issue of the response of story structure to players' characters' motivations...
...3) My gaming group seems to be in El Dorado.
Simulationism is largely a matter of accuracy- rules (often) help to enforce and support it. But again, lack of a predefined plot is necessary but insufficient for narrativist play- you also need the sustained address of premise to avoid Ouija-Board role-play. I've seen this happen all the time in group fanfic- with no delegation of authority or designation of premise, the story, while remaining entirely faithful to genre convention, simply doesn't go anywhere meaningful. This is certainly compatible with primarily-gamist-but-secondarily-simulationist play, which is probably what you mean by the above, and the players may not especially mind a lack of coherent plot because they're primarily focused on tactical challenges, not story creation. I would need to know more details about your system before I could comment further.

2) It is almost always possible to kludge any system into use for Narrativist-style play, even if it means disregarding large chunks of the system and shifting into freeform gear.
Uh... yes. I imagine if you are prepared to discard most of the game then that game could be considered as... uh... not actively interfering with the possibility of narrativism? ...I don't see how that argues against GNS theory at all.

...the gaming style/creative agenda is a product of the social dynamic of the gaming group and the interests of the individuals who make up that group. That's really just common sense, which many people take for granted when arguing about these things, but forget to explicitly recognize...
No disagreement there.

In particular, the Big Model seems to have the social contract in the smallest box, whereas it logically has its place as the biggest box, the one that contains not only the game but the personal relationships that allow the game to happen in the first place and determine to a large extent the charateristics that the game initially takes on.
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/f/f9/The_Big_Model.svg/480px-The_Big_Model.svg.png
Umm... No? The Big Model has the Social Contract in the biggest box, containing everything else. Again, please review.

macd21
2008-12-04, 08:25 AM
The fundamental problem here isn't that the monk's player is some kind of an ass, the problem is that he's a narrativist-inclined player who's been duped by the alignment system into thinking that D&D is a narrativist game, or at the very least that he can address character-based premise without things falling apart. The problem is that you've got an apparently-gamist-with-simulationist-leanings GM (Rich) running a game with an apparently-narrativist-leaning monk player, and the frictions that result are inevitable.


No. This problem has nothing to do with GNS. The problem here is that you have two players with two characters who have different goals. No where is it mentioned that the Bard's player lifted the sword because he was a 'gamist'. It could quite simply be that he was roleplaying his character, who wanted the sword but didn't want to argue with the monk. When the conflict arose, it was because both players wanted to roleplay their characters to the hilt, even if it meant one of them leaving the group. This is an issue with players, not the system. I had a similar problem in another game, where one of the characters had an argument with the rest of the group and then left the party. The player then created a completely new character, which then joined the group. Again, the reason for the conflict had nothing to do with the failure of the game to take GNS into account.

Samurai Jill
2008-12-04, 08:55 AM
No. This problem has nothing to do with GNS. The problem here is that you have two players with two characters who have different goals.
No, you have two players with different goals- which is what happens as a result of incoherent design. Rich wants to keep the party on track, while the Monk-player wants to respect the integrity of his character as he sees it. These priorities cannot be reconciled.

This is an issue with players, not the system.
Of course it's a problem with the system, because the system has no formalised mechanism for accomodating disagreements of this form, which naturally arise because of the alignment system. Having to swap characters in and out is a symptom of failure in this regard, since it undermines the exclusive possession of characters in the first place.

macd21
2008-12-04, 10:01 AM
No, you have two players with different goals- which is what happens as a result of incoherent design. Rich wants to keep the party on track, while the Monk-player wants to respect the integrity of his character as he sees it. These priorities cannot be reconciled.

Of course it's a problem with the system, because the system has no formalised mechanism for accomodating disagreements of this form, which naturally arise because of the alignment system. Having to swap characters in and out is a symptom of failure in this regard, since it undermines the exclusive possession of characters in the first place. [/QUOTE]

First of all, this conflict is not a result of the alignment system, but because of roleplaying. The two characters have different views on theft, looting, honesty etc. This naturally resulted in conflict between the two of them. If the alignment system wasn't there, the players would probably have the same problem, because that is the kind of game both of them want to play.

The GNS model would tell you that either alignment had to be removed from the game and that the players should hold purely gamist ideals - in which case the monk wouldn't care about looting the bodies... and the monk's player wouldn't enjoy the game as much, because he wants his character to have an issue with it - or else the game should include some kind of narrativist mechanic for resolving the conflict (the players roll dice to determine who wins, bid 'influence' chips against each other etc)... which will annoy the vast number of players who don't like interplayer conflicts being resolved like this. You are assuming that such conflicts are considered inherantly negative.

Take 4ed DnD, which apparently moved heavily towards the gamist side of GNS. It solved the alignment problem by both simplifying it and advising players not to play evil characters. Essentially, they said "this isn't a Narrativist game, if that's what you want, play something else." And is 4ed better for that? How? You avoid one problem - interparty conflict - by creating another: removing the option to play an evil character from those players who want it and by telling those players who like interparty dynamics that they should go play something else.

The fundemental flaw with GNS theory is that it pigeonholes players into G, N or S. Very few players are wholly one or the other and most are willing to compromise when playing a game. GNS results in games with limited appeal, because so few players are 'purely' one or the other. Even players who are heavily gamist, for example, may be irritated by the lack of N or S in a game.

AKA_Bait
2008-12-04, 10:07 AM
No, you have two players with different goals- which is what happens as a result of incoherent design. Rich wants to keep the party on track, while the Monk-player wants to respect the integrity of his character as he sees it. These priorities cannot be reconciled.

Wait, you expect system design to eliminate different player goals? Unless the system involves the Ludovico treatment good luck with that.

Samurai Jill
2008-12-04, 10:55 AM
First of all, this conflict is not a result of the alignment system, but because of roleplaying. The two characters have different views on theft, looting, honesty etc. This naturally resulted in conflict between the two of them. If the alignment system wasn't there, the players would probably have the same problem, because that is the kind of game both of them want to play.
D&D encourages conflict in role-play because it provides you with a spectrum of moral and ethical alignments primed to induce such conflict. Law and Chaos, Good and Evil, are defined as intrinsic cosmic opposites. Neither should naturally rub shoulders with the other unless extraordinary circumstances dictate otherwise. There would be nothing wrong with this if, at the same time, there were formal mechanisms for resolving such conflict without fatally undermining other priorities of play- but there aren't.

When you say that a character can be Lawful Good, Chaotic Evil, True Neutral etc, you are making an implied statement about the sort of play that can be expected and the conflicts likely to arise- that difficult moral and ethical choices will be presented that must be resolved to maintain your character's integrity. It says, 'that is the premise of our game'- when of course, D&D is only peripherally concerned with matters of good and evil as a convenient pretence for the slaughter of 'Usually Evil' opponents, with law and chaos chucked in as a misguided nod to Moorcock, (thank you very much simulationism-butting-in-where-you're-not-required.)

Oh, but you say- alignment is simply there as indicator of past behaviour. Except that half the classes in the game place stringent limits on what alignment you can take and impose mechanical penalties if you can't live up to that- Adhering to the character-based-premise of alignment leads to in-character conflict, but failure to do so undermines tactical balance among party members, (such as it is in 3e.)

The GNS model would tell you that either alignment had to be removed from the game and that the players should hold purely gamist ideals - in which case the monk wouldn't care about looting the bodies... and the monk's player wouldn't enjoy the game as much, because he wants his character to have an issue with it...
Yes! Exactly! S/He might then actually be spurred to find another group of like-minded players using rules that actually support the narrativist creative agenda! And have a ball! Or maybe the absence of the alignment system would simply induce that player to take the hint and 'get with the program' gamist-agenda-wise- who knows, s/he might still have plenty of fun in the process, and there wouldn't so much interpersonal drama to interfere with wholesome smiting!

...or else the game should include some kind of narrativist mechanic for resolving the conflict (the players roll dice to determine who wins, bid 'influence' chips against each other etc)... which will annoy the vast number of players who don't like interplayer conflicts being resolved like this. You are assuming that such conflicts are considered inherantly negative.
Disruptions to immersive play that lead to real-world personal acrimony I think can be called intrinsically dysfunctional, yes. But I've already said that gamism and narrativism don't hybridise, so no, I would not reccomend what you suggest- most players find these annoying for the simple reason they have a different creative agenda. (Besides, the alternative seems to be plenty annoying too.)
I would also remind you that plenty of players find the idea of rigid alignment categories to be pretty annoying too.

Take 4ed DnD, which apparently moved heavily towards the gamist side of GNS. It solved the alignment problem by both simplifying it and advising players not to play evil characters. Essentially, they said "this isn't a Narrativist game, if that's what you want, play something else." And is 4ed better for that? How? You avoid one problem - interparty conflict - by creating another: removing the option to play an evil character from those players who want it and by telling those players who like interparty dynamics that they should go play something else.
YES! EXACTLY! That is the ideal solution!


Wait, you expect system design to eliminate different player goals? Unless the system involves the Ludovico treatment good luck with that.
Some players are just inherently *****- there's nothing you can do to fix that after the fact. I don't dispute that. But in many cases, conflicts like these arise not because of some intrinsic failure as social humans, but because the game's own confused text and conflicted design agenda leaves the players with radically different expectations. GNS adherence will not eliminate conflict, but it can at last minimise it's potential. More to the point, there is the risk that GNS conflict can make ***** out people- the classic case being the bored gamist-inclined player in a simulationist group who turns his attention to Breaking the game. Don't let this happen to you.

RPGuru1331
2008-12-04, 04:36 PM
Wrong. WFRP includes a narrativist mechanic - Fate/Fortune points, which provide PCs with a small amount of control over the narrative.[QUOTE]
And dungeons and dragons gave a tiny nod to simulationism in its equipment design. Are you saying that one tiny mechanic is supposed to decide the system's tilt?

THat notwithstanding that Fate Points are just as much gamist resources; Not because they're very useful in combat. If nothing else, they prevent or lessen a crit, making it less likely to turn you into mulch.

[quote]Eh? How is flatly contradicting you the same as splitting hairs?
How do I put this.

What you listed is equivalent to my definition of narrativism as a goal.


You may be missing out on one of the most fun aspects of RPGs.
I think it's pretty clear that someone who says they DON'T WANT TO DO IT doesn't enjoy hitting an RPG system with a wrench until it does what they want it to do...

Ethdred
2008-12-05, 07:04 AM
No, you have two players with different goals- which is what happens as a result of incoherent design. Rich wants to keep the party on track, while the Monk-player wants to respect the integrity of his character as he sees it. These priorities cannot be reconciled.


Perhaps you need to properly read your own example - Rich was the GM, and so naturally wanted to keep the party on track. Nothing is said about the motivation of the bard (who may simply have been RPing his character as a klepto rather than seeking a gamist advantage). Equally, it is not clear if the Monk had a total prohibition against looting as a result of his alignment or if it was a specific issue for those dead.

I can't see why this situation could not have arisen with a completely narrativist set-up, nor how narrativist game rules could have solved it. If the two characters are in conflict then it's possible that one or perhaps both could end up leaving the party. In fact, as a player, that may be the best way to handle things. I've recently just retired a D&D character because there were things going on in the party that I could not rationalise him accepting - not because of his alignment or any game mechanic, but because of the way I had been playing him up to then. I could either stay in the party and become increasingly disruptive, which would have lessened everyone's fun including mine, or I can bug out and bring in someone who will (possibly) be more in tune with the way the party is now going. I don't see how game mechanics or design have any bearing on this sort of situation.

Samurai Jill
2008-12-05, 02:57 PM
I can't see why this situation could not have arisen with a completely narrativist set-up, nor how narrativist game rules could have solved it.
Of course this situation could have arisen in a narrativist game, the difference being that A. the narrativist game text would have included detailed mechanical examples about how to resolve inter-character conflict and/or B. narrativist play would not need to enforce party membership in the first place- 'leaving the party' would not be a functional disaster for anyone concerned, it's simply another way of exploring character and addressing premise- and the players could keep playing without disruption. Go read Dogs in the Vineyard.

The problem is that D&D includes a system which encourages this sort of conflict but includes nothing about how to handle the resultant fallout. That's what incoherent design results in. And it's not the sole culprit by any means.

Darrin
2008-12-05, 03:38 PM
The problem is that D&D includes a system which encourages this sort of conflict but includes nothing about how to handle the resultant fallout. That's what incoherent design results in. And it's not the sole culprit by any means.

Congratulations, you've conclusively proven that D&D could not possibly outsell all other RPGs and dominate the market...

...oh, wait...

Samurai Jill
2008-12-05, 03:42 PM
By a similar logic, Microsoft makes better software.

RPGuru1331
2008-12-05, 04:24 PM
Congratulations, you've conclusively proven that D&D could not possibly outsell all other RPGs and dominate the market...

...oh, wait...

WoW is an insanely dominant MMO in terms of market share. It's not really better. It's just much better marketted. DnD is pretty much in the same boat (Though 4e is actually pretty good.)

Morty
2008-12-05, 04:38 PM
Because as everyone knows, something well-marketed can't be good, and all those who enjoy it are but clueless hacks swayed by advertisment. Live and learn.
Also, this thread proves my point that GNS theory's sole purpose is to be able to say "system X sucks" in a fancier way.

RPGuru1331
2008-12-05, 04:51 PM
Because as everyone knows, something well-marketed can't be good, and all those who enjoy it are but clueless hacks swayed by advertisment. Live and learn.

Who said any of that nonsense? All I said was that DnD's dominance is only due to superior marketting. It flatly isn't a better system then a lot of its competition. That doesn't mean it's only worthy of rubes either or some such either.

Also, popularity has inertia. Hm, Marketting and the fact that it's the first big name.

Morty
2008-12-05, 04:56 PM
Who said any of that nonsense? All I said was that DnD's dominance is only due to superior marketting. It flatly isn't a better system then a lot of its competition. That doesn't mean it's only worthy of rubes either or some such either.

Also, popularity has inertia.

No amount of marketing would help D&D if it didn't have something people like. Therefore, claiming that D&D's dominance is only due to superior marketing is nonsense. In a big part yes, it is. But not only.

RPGuru1331
2008-12-05, 05:03 PM
No amount of marketing would help D&D if it didn't have something people like. Therefore, claiming that D&D's dominance is only due to superior marketing is nonsense. In a big part yes, it is. But not only.

No, no, no. We're discussing its dominance. I didn't claim it had no redeeming features, or that it couldn't be liked, or that the only reason it was liked was that it was better marketted. I said the only reason it won the market is that it's better marketted. Then there's the inertia that follows; Since it's the most popular, it's the thing that stores make the most effort to stock, and what they put out in front (Unless local demands are different, but they're usually not). Popularity builds popularity. You don't have to produce better product to win a market war.

Grey Paladin
2008-12-05, 06:08 PM
Sometimes, people simply prefer 'inferior' products due to them seeing features in what you see as bugs.

If offered a choice between cheap beer and the finest wine, many will go for the beer.

RPGuru1331
2008-12-05, 06:53 PM
Sometimes, people simply prefer 'inferior' products due to them seeing features in what you see as bugs.

If offered a choice between cheap beer and the finest wine, many will go for the beer.

For any of a dozen reasons, many of which will have nothing to do with any form of 'superiority' or lack thereof

A perception that the finest wine is something only fruity nancy boys or french people drink.
A perception that the beer is for uncultured rubes (Worded slightly differently, also works for taking the beer)
Economics; The cheap beer is, in fact, cheap.
Taste.
Alcohol content.
Familiarity (The beer is not necessarily better, but it is more like what you're used to and prefer then the wine)

You will also have people choose neither. This doesn't change the fact that DnD simply does not remotely approach 'objectively better'. It's dominance of the market has very little to do with some sort of superior quality.

Grey Paladin
2008-12-05, 07:31 PM
So you're claiming that given the chance to fully try and play them, everyone will move on to so called superior games?

When it comes to taste, there is no 'objectively better'.

RPGuru1331
2008-12-05, 07:53 PM
So you're claiming that given the chance to fully try and play them, everyone will move on to so called superior games?

When it comes to taste, there is no 'objectively better'.

No. Almost nothing I listed for choosing the beer over the wine will change when presenting a theoretically objectively better system. Familiarity is especially hella strong when we're talking about a system who's rules are going to need to be understood to play them. I can think of a hundred times when I've heard "I won't run this, I don't know it well enough".

And god forbid we bring in the fact that peer pressure is extremely strong, because your choice has to match your peers (Those at the table with you).

Also, I'm vaguely curious where in the name of Black Mage you got "Everyone would play an objectively better game given the chance" out of my post, since it was all about why they wouldn't.

Samurai Jill
2008-12-05, 09:50 PM
So you're claiming that given the chance to fully try and play them, everyone will move on to so called superior games?

When it comes to taste, there is no 'objectively better'.
I think that given a chance to fully play a wider variety of games, many people used to playing 3e D&D- and in particular non-gamist-inclined players feeling left out by 4e- will find that there are a wide variety of games better suited to their tastes. There are also plenty of players with gamist inclinations who would legitimately be just as happy sticking with 4e- It's a solid system. But yes, I think non-gamist players are genuinely better off with them and D&D going their separate ways.

Guru has it right. There have been any number of reasons for D&D's dominance that have absolutely nothing to do with technical merit. (I would go so far as to say that D&D became dominant mostly because it's early competitors shot themselves in the foot, despite their technical merits.)

Because as everyone knows, something well-marketed can't be good, and all those who enjoy it are but clueless hacks swayed by advertisment.
I was refuting the argument that market dominance is any reliable indicator of technical superiority.

The problem with earlier editions of D&D was that they did provide something that people liked- it was just that different aspects of the system appealed to entirely unrelated tastes, and the demands that each kind of play(er?) makes are not really compatible. GNS theory is important because it outlines the ways in which such divergent tastes come into conflict, and how to specialise design to avoid those problems- either excluding players who won't enjoy a given mode of play, or at least structuring the rules and text to consistently convey what's expected from each player.

Grey Paladin
2008-12-06, 04:59 AM
RPGuru: I was just pointing out quality has close to nothing to do with how liked a product is - not only how popular it is.

SJ: I have no doubt many will switch systems, but before the 3.X facade one of the defining qualities of previous editions was that they basically stated 'this is a toolbox, you'll have to fiddle with it to get anything playable but if you do you can create a game agreeable by everyone'.

Specialized design is great due to running straight out of the box and providing exactly what it says on the tin, but morphic design has its place: perhaps it'll be inferior (not necessarily overly significantly) to any Specialized system in the given system's area of expertise but it does offers a compromise that addresses every need in turn.

Morty
2008-12-06, 08:50 AM
The problem with earlier editions of D&D was that they did provide something that people liked- it was just that different aspects of the system appealed to entirely unrelated tastes, and the demands that each kind of play(er?) makes are not really compatible. GNS theory is important because it outlines the ways in which such divergent tastes come into conflict, and how to specialise design to avoid those problems- either excluding players who won't enjoy a given mode of play, or at least structuring the rules and text to consistently convey what's expected from each player.

Isn't that, you know, a good thing? If a system contains enjoyable parts for people with different tastes -although I have no idea why are you classifying D&D among such systems, it always seemed preety focused for me- more people will play it. As for the GNS theory itself, it's not bad, but it's utterly useless. You can debate about it, but in practice it's meaningless. When I look at a system, I don't think "it's narrativist/gamist/simulationits", I think "this system focues on (insert style of play/power level here) and is aimed at (inster group of players here)". I generally tend to think that such artifical, arbitrary divisions cause more trouble than they're worth.

RPGuru1331
2008-12-06, 04:02 PM
Specialized design is great due to running straight out of the box and providing exactly what it says on the tin, but morphic design has its place: perhaps it'll be inferior (not necessarily overly significantly) to any Specialized system in the given system's area of expertise but it does offers a compromise that addresses every need in turn.

I'm inclined to agree in general, since I've seen Narrativism and Gamism play into a nice big love in, but frankly, in my experience, hard simulationism has the least ability to do so. It can, if one is to claim you can be simulationist to genre trappings, but simulationist to settings (Or god forbid, reality and/or common sense)... eh-heh.


Isn't that, you know, a good thing? If a system contains enjoyable parts for people with different tastes more people will play it.
No. It actually has a tendency (in my experience) to become something of an unmitigated disaster, without the intervention of a good mediator. "Stop with the brooding already! I've got a door I want to kick down!" in essence.

Well, to be clear, it's not the 'appeal to different tastes', but the lack of prioritizing those tastes. Since the above example was DnD, I'll continue on that; If, instead, the rules laid down a clear expectation, implicit or preferably explicit, that the game was about kicking down doors to loot the room, and did not contradict itself (DnD does the implicit, then contradict itself), there's very little problem in my eyes; The player should rationally expect his roleplaying to play second fiddle to kicking down the next door. Not that it'll never come first, but that it isn't likely to.


As for the GNS theory itself, it's not bad, but it's utterly useless. You can debate about it, but in practice it's meaningless. When I look at a system, I don't think "it's narrativist/gamist/simulationits", I think "this system focues on (insert style of play/power level here) and is aimed at (inster group of players here)". I generally tend to think that such artifical, arbitrary divisions cause more trouble than they're worth.
Funny, doing so has lead to pretty darn good times, since we don't waste our time on nearly as much interpersonal strife or system kitbashing.

Morty
2008-12-06, 04:34 PM
No. It actually has a tendency (in my experience) to become something of an unmitigated disaster, without the intervention of a good mediator. "Stop with the brooding already! I've got a door I want to kick down!" in essence.

Only if we assume that "brooding" and kicking down doors are mutually exclusive, which they aren't.


Well, to be clear, it's not the 'appeal to different tastes', but the lack of prioritizing those tastes. Since the above example was DnD, I'll continue on that; If, instead, the rules laid down a clear expectation, implicit or preferably explicit, that the game was about kicking down doors to loot the room, and did not contradict itself (DnD does the implicit, then contradict itself), there's very little problem in my eyes; The player should rationally expect his roleplaying to play second fiddle to kicking down the next door. Not that it'll never come first, but that it isn't likely to.

And why can't roleplaying and kicking in doors coexist? Sure, some players prefer one and some prefer the other, but what stops a player from enjoying both aspects of D&D at the same time? Or players from reaching a consensus between kicking in doors and roleplaying?


Funny, doing so has lead to pretty darn good times, since we don't waste our time on nearly as much interpersonal strife or system kitbashing.

*shrug* From my experience, GNS theory has caused only endless debates and annyoing elitism.

RPGuru1331
2008-12-06, 04:40 PM
Only if we assume that "brooding" and kicking down doors are mutually exclusive, which they aren't.
Actually, brooding is. It's not much of a monologue if everyone's ignoring you in favor of rolling dice for init.


And why can't roleplaying and kicking in doors coexist? Sure, some players prefer one and some prefer the other, but what stops a player from enjoying both aspects of D&D at the same time? Or players from reaching a consensus between kicking in doors and roleplaying?
Dude, what the hell? "I kick in the door and loot the room" is by far the least roleplaying intensive way to play DnD. Are you not familiar with the concept? It's about providing unambiguously in-the-wrong (or brainless; Oozes, Golems..) NPCs in dungeons for the PCs to go in and curbstomp, potentially dealing with traps, puzzles etc on the way. "Why is it exclusive"? Not technically, but it's certainly designed to minimize it.


*shrug* From my experience, GNS theory has caused only endless debates and annyoing elitism.

Have you tried using it, or squabbling about it as we are now?

Crow
2008-12-06, 04:47 PM
Dude, what the hell? "I kick in the door and loot the room" is by far the least roleplaying intensive way to play DnD. Are you not familiar with the concept? It's about providing unambiguously in-the-wrong (or brainless; Oozes, Golems..) NPCs in dungeons for the PCs to go in and curbstomp, potentially dealing with traps, puzzles etc on the way. "Why is it exclusive"? Not technically, but it's certainly designed to minimize it.


"This is my job, and I am a professional. I put aside everything else and focus on getting the job done here and now. I'm not here to worry about the motivations of my enemies, and I don't care what they have to say. I'm here to get rich."

Why does everyone assume that roleplay automatically excludes a kick-in-the-door and loot style of play? Nobody forces anybody to kick in the door and loot.

Morty
2008-12-06, 04:48 PM
Actually, brooding is. It's not much of a monologue if everyone's ignoring you in favor of rolling dice for init.

That's true, but monologuing isn't the only way to roleplay your characters, is it?


Dude, what the hell? "I kick in the door and loot the room" is by far the least roleplaying intensive way to play DnD. Are you not familiar with the concept? It's about providing unambiguously in-the-wrong (or brainless; Oozes, Golems..) NPCs in dungeons for the PCs to go in and curbstomp, potentially dealing with traps, puzzles etc on the way. "Why is it exclusive"? Not technically, but it's certainly designed to minimize it.

Well, I assumed that by "kick in the door" you meant simply combat-focused campaigns and adventures. But if you mean mindless killing of designated antagonists, then yes, I agree that it hinders roleplaying. However, D&D, as combat-focused as it is, doesn't require anyone to play in such style. Combat-focused, yes. Mindless, no.


Have you tried using it, or squabbling about it as we are now?

I've never seen a real need to use this theory, despite being interested in it when I first saw it, which has been my point from the very start. I just don't consider it very reliable, especially seeing how people can't seem to agree about the exact definitions of its parts. From what people manage to agree about, I seem to be a simulationist, and most certainly not a narrativist. Overall, it might be an amusing excercise, I don't deny. But I see little point in using it in practice.

Kalirren
2008-12-07, 02:30 PM
This reply is really long, so I'm spoilering it into several sections for reading convenience. Otherwise it just gets horrible.

Recognizing the primacy of the social contract:





...the gaming style/creative agenda is a product of the social dynamic of the gaming group and the interests of the individuals who make up that group. That's really just common sense, which many people take for granted when arguing about these things, but forget to explicitly recognize...

No disagreement there.


In particular, the Big Model seems to have the social contract in the smallest box, whereas it logically has its place as the biggest box, the one that contains not only the game but the personal relationships that allow the game to happen in the first place and determine to a large extent the charateristics that the game initially takes on.

Umm... No? The Big Model has the Social Contract in the biggest box, containing everything else. Again, please review.

Oh, I stand corrected, then. That's good. I recall having seen a diagram somewhere else that had the social contract box as the innermost, and that memory was erroneously mentally filed under the Big Model. Thank you. In any case, it's good that we both recognize at least this bit of common sense.


Questioning the fairness of the GNS trichotomy:





...Still, as RE uses them, "Gamism" and "Simulationism" are meaningful as words, but "Narrativism" is very broad and comprehensive, so much so that the Ron Edwards corpus often boils down to a semantic strawman of the following motivic form:

"Gamism and Simulationism are well-defined creative agendas."
"Narrativism is responsive to the demands of individual players, and Narrativist techniques are where all of the technical magic of creating a engaging narrative happens."
"Hence a predominantly Narrativist style of play is more encompassing than and superior to a predominantly Gamist or a predominantly Simulationist style."


...And where does he say this, exactly? As far as I can tell, RE has certainly bent over backwards to give each mode a fair shake in his essays.

There's nothing broad about narrativism as I understand it. It has two main conditions-
1. Address of premise as a focus of play and unifying factor.
2. Collaborative authorship of story.


I must vehemently disagree with your appraisal of Ron Edward's treatment of G and S. Ron Edwards may talk for pages and pages about Gamism and Simulationism, but he only recognizes Premise in the Narrativist sense. He fails to address the other aspects of Premise on equal ground. Thank you for making me think about this, incidentally; I'm far more coherent about this than I was before. I would have much less of a problem with the theory if it took those other aspects of Premise, which is one of the most direct things to come out of the social contract, into account.

For the record, this is the reason why I think it's more productive to measure Creative Agendas by Gamism-Narrativism-Explorationism.

Narrativist Premise is the stated definition of character, in terms of values, reactions, attachments, personal conflicts and issues, etc.

Gamist Premise is the definition of character build, in terms of statistics. Is the thing on the sheet a cleric? a mage? a gunslinger? a socialite? an ancient awakened oak tree?

Explorationist Premise is the definition of the IC world. Are we playing in the real world? in a steampunk world? in Pre-Columbian America? In a fantasy universe where elves live like Pre-Columbian Americans?

So if we go back to it, then you can say,

You can call a game a strongly and completely Narrativist game if it satisfies three conditions:
a) Players must have a strong Narrativist Premise for their characters.
b) Players contribute to the evolution of story with respect to those stated Premises both via OoC interaction and IC character action.
c) Players agree that the game's meaning is strongly derived from and dependent upon the interaction between the resulting story and their characters' Narrativist Premises.

But in a completely analogous fashion, you can say,

You can call a game a strongly and completely Gamist game if it satisfies three conditions:
a) Players must have a strong Gamist Premise for their characters.
b) Players contribute to the surmounting of gaming challenges with respect to those stated Premises both via OoC interaction and IC character action.
c) Players agree that the game's meaning is strongly derived from and dependent upon the interaction between the challenges and their characters' Gamist Premises.

And ditto for Explorationism:

You can call a game a strongly and completely Explorationist game if it satisfies three conditions:
a) Players must have a strong Explorationist Premise for their characters. (i.e., they have a strong sense of the way their character relates to the world; they have a world context.)
b) Players contribute to the ongoing development of the IC world with respect to those stated Premises both via OoC interaction and IC character action.
c) Players agree that the game's meaning is strongly derived from and dependent upon the interaction between the resulting world and their characters' Explorationist Premises.

To wit:


All 3 GNS modes are 'responsive to the demands of individual players', the difference is that the players are seeking different forms of creative expression.


To which I would respond that "GNS modes" don't exist, and that all decent games, period, are responsive to the demands of individual players. This observation has nothing to do with the hypothetical "GNS mode" you're in.


On the silly RGB point:





As it's been said many times before, not just in this thread, almost any engaging game will exhibit aspects of Gamism, Narrativism, and Simulationism.

You might as well argue that every colour will exhibit portions of Red, Green and Blue, therefore Red, Green and Blue light are irrelevant to colour theory, and all colours are 'equally primary'.


But I'm not arguing that. Just because Gamism, Narrativism, and Simulationism are present in many games doesn't mean that most games can be described well by those three principal components.

In other words, I'm arguing that Red, Yellow, and Blue do not cover the gamut of perceptible colors and that it would be more useful to use Red, Green, and Blue.


Remarks about my gaming group and the system we have arrived at:





1) It is difficult, but not impossible to design a rules set that is inherently agreeable with Gamist and Simulationist interests that can be used for Narrativist gameplay. This is because Simulationism is largely an issue of rules whereas Narrativism is largely an issue of the response of story structure to players' characters' motivations...
...3) My gaming group seems to be in El Dorado.

Simulationism is largely a matter of accuracy- rules (often) help to enforce and support it. But again, lack of a predefined plot is necessary but insufficient for narrativist play- you also need the sustained address of premise to avoid Ouija-Board role-play. I've seen this happen all the time in group fanfic- with no delegation of authority or designation of premise, the story, while remaining entirely faithful to genre convention, simply doesn't go anywhere meaningful. This is certainly compatible with primarily-gamist-but-secondarily-simulationist play, which is probably what you mean by the above, and the players may not especially mind a lack of coherent plot because they're primarily focused on tactical challenges, not story creation. I would need to know more details about your system before I could comment further.

You don't believe me when I say that our group is in El Dorado, do you? Your comment suggests that you believe I have my group's creative agenda confused, unless I have my notion of El Dorado confused. If I'm not mistaken, El Dorado is a state of the gaming group's social dynamic that supports a heavily Narrativist/Simulationist creative agenda. I have to admit that what Ron Edwards envisions as Simulationism can be very un-Narrativistic at times. The way a bullet to the gut can cut short a character's narrative arc is rather sad. But that doesn't mean that the Right to Dream and Story Now are incompatible, which is the whole gist of calling it El Dorado in the first place.

Let me start out this section by just saying that my group is definitely not primarily gamist. We're just gamist enough to keep using the system because rolling large dice pools is fun for the DM. That's where it ends. Yes, we use an adaption of White-wolf-style d10 and Vampire 2nd ed. rules. We are playing in our own version of a supernatural world layered over real-world historical events. We are extremely simulationist in that we are prepared to regularly devote massive amounts of energy into creating and justifying the existence of happenings in the game world. We are narrativist in the sense that we delegate one player, the DM, with the authority and duty to make up the major story arcs, and to force circumstances upon our characters for them to react to in meaningful ways. This avoids the problem you observed in the fanfic communities.

To put it another way, RE seems to have associated simulationism with high points-of-contact wargaming simulationism, which is mostly what it was in the 80's. That's not what we do; when talking within the GNS model, I call it simulationism because it sure isn't Gamism or Narrativism. We are not wargaming simulationists, and we are all okay with glossing over details of tactical combat. In contrast, we are social Simulationists; we model developments of ideas, the kind of people that flock to a certain banner, etc. This is how we exercise our Right to Dream: not by making complicated models of hit locations and damage and gadgets, but by creating a detailed, coherent world and world-context that we can bounce our characters off of effectively.

So the end result is that we get both the Right to Dream and Story Now. Our group demands both an Explorationist Premise and a Narrativist Premise, and we address both in a supplementary fashion. By using social simulation to explore setting, we create circumstances to which our charaters can react, thereby addressing character premise. Thus we derive meaning from our game. That is our social contract. In particular, it seems to exist across the GNS modes, which is why I think the mode divisions are rubbish.


This brings me to the issue of system compatibility with GNS:





2) It is almost always possible to kludge any system into use for Narrativist-style play, even if it means disregarding large chunks of the system and shifting into freeform gear.

Uh... yes. I imagine if you are prepared to discard most of the game then that game could be considered as... uh... not actively interfering with the possibility of narrativism? ...I don't see how that argues against GNS theory at all.

I didn't say "discard", I said "disregard." That is to say, in my experience, it's not usually because of the rules themselves that the Narrativist play is somehow inhibited, resulting in a need to not follow the system. Rather, the rules (and I'm thinking D&D in particular here) are so scant in certain respects that many aspects of Narrativist play end up being governed by a system that is largely equivalent to freeform. The sort of Narrativist motifs, tones, character motivations, psychological states, etc. are simply not modeled within the system. The system could all be about magic and combat, and be both painfully and painstakingly detailed in that respect. But if the emphasis of the campaign is not in combat but in the relationships between people amidst large, unfolding geopolitical/social events and currents, well, you're going to be disregarding large chunks of the system. This is not to say that the system is not used when it is time to use it.

I brought this up because one of the things that people seem to get out of GNS theory is that a system can only serve one of those three masters well. But this presupposes the validity of the G-N-S trichotomy, which I have contested before.

And even if I'm wrong, and it -is- impossible to make a GNS-toti-compatible system, it doesn't matter, because you can make a GEN-toti-compatible system. We did, and we use it.

RPGuru1331
2008-12-07, 05:47 PM
Why does everyone assume that roleplay automatically excludes a kick-in-the-door and loot style of play? Nobody forces anybody to kick in the door and loot.

Because the entire style of play is about maximizing the monster mashing, and minimizing the roleplay and story.


That's true, but monologuing isn't the only way to roleplay your characters, is it?
Look, you're the one who said Brooding can be done while everyone else is whupping ass, not me. I actually don't define combat as the part where roleplay ends. But most DnDers do, at least on the net. That's why I always see games advertise as "Roleplaying heavy" and explicitly not be about combat.


Well, I assumed that by "kick in the door" you meant simply combat-focused campaigns and adventures. But if you mean mindless killing of designated antagonists, then yes, I agree that it hinders roleplaying. However, D&D, as combat-focused as it is, doesn't require anyone to play in such style. Combat-focused, yes. Mindless, no.
No, but it really is optimized towards it.


I've never seen a real need to use this theory, despite being interested in it when I first saw it, which has been my point from the very start. I just don't consider it very reliable, especially seeing how people can't seem to agree about the exact definitions of its parts. From what people manage to agree about, I seem to be a simulationist, and most certainly not a narrativist. Overall, it might be an amusing excercise, I don't deny. But I see little point in using it in practice.
Whatever, dude. You're the one who hasn't used it. It's saved me tons of trouble.

Raum
2008-12-07, 07:09 PM
Because the entire style of play is about maximizing the monster mashing, and minimizing the roleplay and story.Not necessarily. First, combat does not preclude role play. It never has. As for story - not all stories need to be epic in scope or cross months of time. You can easily think of it as creating a story in the style of 24.

I'm not saying that purely tactical war games aren't played, just that it isn't the only method to play a 'kick in the door dungeon crawl'. That's one of the biggest problems with attempting to apply GNS to a game system. It tries to draw hard lines between types - but the medium, the game, is fluid. Hard dividing lines don't last.

Thurbane
2008-12-07, 07:41 PM
Whatever, dude. You're the one who hasn't used it. It's saved me tons of trouble.
That's nice. For your game. And it it works for your game then that's just tops. Meanwhile, several thousand of us out have been playing fun RPG sessions for 20 years or more without so much as a nod to the vaunted GNS theory.

Like a lot of intellectual exercises, it often bears little or no resemblance to what happens in actual games. That's not to say it's worthless - obviously, it has helped you to shape your games into something more enjoyable.

But please don't espouse it as a hard fact that all games, everywhere would be better if people adhered more closely to GNS, because it simply isn't true. :smallwink:

cenghiz
2008-12-07, 08:35 PM
About four months ago, Ministry of Education decided to fund my expenses for a program for mentally challenged. I started working on it and needed another employee for simple tasks.

Found someone, who seems to have had great education and fine references. First day at work, I told him I need a simple dll having functions that can send and receive strings through a TCP port, maybe also a base64 converter. Anything would suffice. Damn.. thinking about it, I believe he could just 'google' it.

Two days later he brought me diagrams, schemas, etc etc for the dll. I made him sit beside me and coded the frigging dll in half an hour. I didn't need the shiny terms and schemas and categorizations yada yada for such a basic task. I know they teach folks such details in the uni these days but heh... Just 'heh', really.

.....

Again about six months ago, two friends, wife and I were chatting in a friend's house. Getting bored, we decided for a quick one-shot. I asked for an hour, made a simple map in Flash, prepared a couple puzzles, a gnoll organization, weird acting candlestick animated objects, a poem and a stupid but tactical-minded BBEG. We had so much fun that when we finished, pigeons were loudly celebrating the dawn.

I know these days RPers are taught theories, categorizations and all those shiny terms but.... 'heh'...

I feel old :(

RPGuru1331
2008-12-07, 10:53 PM
That's nice. For your game. And it it works for your game then that's just tops. Meanwhile, several thousand of us out have been playing fun RPG sessions for 20 years or more without so much as a nod to the vaunted GNS theory.
Nobody (Not even the OP) Has sait it's impossible without. All I've been saying is that it's a big help. Not a necessity, but a time saver in player selection (For PBP) and system selection, and trying to understand where people are coming from in a lot of posts.


But please don't espouse it as a hard fact that all games, everywhere would be better if people adhered more closely to GNS, because it simply isn't true. :smallwink:

Fantastic. I'll bear that in mind. Oh wait, I have been. I've even laid out what I consider it useful for. Don't read more into it then what I said.


Not necessarily. First, combat does not preclude role play. It never has.


Look, you're the one who said Brooding can be done while everyone else is whupping ass, not me. I actually don't define combat as the part where roleplay ends. But most DnDers do, at least on the net. That's why I always see games advertise as "Roleplaying heavy" and explicitly not be about combat.


As for story - not all stories need to be epic in scope or cross months of time. You can easily think of it as creating a story in the style of 24.
The mind just boggles. You're talking about a fast paced time-crunch that involves kicking doors (No real looting though), not Kick Down the Door, Loot the Room.

Page 7, Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 edition Dungeonmaster's Guide. Why, oh why, are people crucifying me for using the (Slightly modified as per Munchkin) word choice your game uses?


I'm not saying that purely tactical war games aren't played, just that it isn't the only method to play a 'kick in the door dungeon crawl'. That's one of the biggest problems with attempting to apply GNS to a game system. It tries to draw hard lines between types - but the medium, the game, is fluid. Hard dividing lines don't last.
Sigh. From this very page.


I'm inclined to agree in general, since I've seen Narrativism and Gamism play into a nice big love in, but frankly, in my experience, hard simulationism has the least ability to do so. It can, if one is to claim you can be simulationist to genre trappings, but simulationist to settings (Or god forbid, reality and/or common sense)... eh-heh.

I don't believe in hard divides, thank you very much. Not even as a necessity for simulationism. It's not that hard to take it in small doses in the others.

Morty
2008-12-08, 11:02 AM
Look, you're the one who said Brooding can be done while everyone else is whupping ass, not me. I actually don't define combat as the part where roleplay ends. But most DnDers do, at least on the net. That's why I always see games advertise as "Roleplaying heavy" and explicitly not be about combat.

My D&D games has always been rich in in-combat description. Our DM is big on that, and yet we didn't encounter any problems.


No, but it really is optimized towards it.

Again, I haven't noticed that. It's a combat-focused system, but it doesn't mean mindless kick-in-door sessions. It's just one of the ways of playing. Our D&D sessions featured both roleplaying, in and out of combat, and killing people and taking their stuff.


Whatever, dude. You're the one who hasn't used it. It's saved me tons of trouble.

Well, not using me has saved me a lot of trouble- I don't have to ponder about pidgeonholing this system or another into the categories of GNS system and I didn't have to bother about it when designing my own. Not seriously at least.

Tormsskull
2008-12-08, 03:17 PM
The merit that I have been able to take out of GNS theory, which I knew before I even heard about the theory, is that there are different types of players and different systems cater to different playstyles.

Beyond that, you get into a lot of subjectivity about what is what. Some people don't like labels; and will argue to the death that they are not gamist or not narativist, etc.

Using the GNS theory as a rough idea of the type of game you're going for and the type of players you'd like to have can be beneficial, but in my area more often than not a lack of players and a strong-willed DM have overrode that.

Raum
2008-12-08, 06:39 PM
<snipped a bunch of jumbled responses>Please, please label who you're quoting when you pick and choose from multiple different sources. It makes figuring out what you're trying to say far simpler.


Page 7, Dungeons and Dragons 3.5 edition Dungeonmaster's Guide. Why, oh why, are people crucifying me for using the (Slightly modified as per Munchkin) word choice your game uses?My game? I haven't played D&D in a year or so. Besides, I thought we were discussing GNS and not a specific game system.

RPGuru1331
2008-12-08, 07:59 PM
Please, please label who you're quoting when you pick and choose from multiple different sources. It makes figuring out what you're trying to say far simpler.
Effort, vs. understanding. Eh, not the worst trade.


]My game? I haven't played D&D in a year or so. Besides, I thought we were discussing GNS and not a specific game system.
Good sir, in the post you were quoting, Dungeons and Dragons had quite unmistakenly become the example.



My D&D games has always been rich in in-combat description. Our DM is big on that, and yet we didn't encounter any problems.
Yer point being? I said Dungeons and Dragons is heavily optimized towards kick down the door, loot the room dungeon crawls. It's not incapable of other things, but the rules are, put diplomatically, less then helpful on a lot of things that aren't.


Again, I haven't noticed that. It's a combat-focused system, but it doesn't mean mindless kick-in-door sessions. It's just one of the ways of playing. Our D&D sessions featured both roleplaying, in and out of combat, and killing people and taking their stuff.
You really haven't noticed? Isn't like.. the entire Player's Guide, aside from a short chapter that includes a few tiny nods to roleplaying (Such as the description of the token Gods Clerics need to poorly represent) a really big book on making and playing an avatar in a big dungeon crawl?


Well, not using me has saved me a lot of trouble- I don't have to ponder about pidgeonholing this system or another into the categories of GNS system and I didn't have to bother about it when designing my own. Not seriously at least.
How can you tell? Have you in fact used it? I'm telling you what I used it for and what it did; If you've never used it, how can you tell where not using it has saved you trouble? I did it both with and without, I've got a baseline.

zeruslord
2008-12-08, 10:16 PM
4e is not actually any better for gamists. In fact, it reduces the impact of player decisions and removes the ability for one character to trump another. Basically, it prevents competition from ever occurring.

Raum
2008-12-08, 10:58 PM
Effort, vs. understanding. Eh, not the worst trade.Thank you!


Good sir, in the post you were quoting, Dungeons and Dragons had quite unmistakenly become the example.Hmm, going back I see that...I'll blame memory issues on my age! :smallredface:


Yer point being? I said Dungeons and Dragons is heavily optimized towards kick down the door, loot the room dungeon crawls. It's not incapable of other things, but the rules are, put diplomatically, less then helpful on a lot of things that aren't.

You really haven't noticed? Isn't like.. the entire Player's Guide, aside from a short chapter that includes a few tiny nods to roleplaying (Such as the description of the token Gods Clerics need to poorly represent) a really big book on making and playing an avatar in a big dungeon crawl?I won't argue your conclusions but I don't think a lack of role playing material is the cause. I'd attribute more to complexity of the mechanics. Until a group knows them very well, they take a lot of attention. Once a group does know them they can fade back into the background and allow more time for other aspects of the game.

I do have a question - how do you see that fitting into GNS? It's the same system and the same group. But styles, behavior, and creative agenda often change over time. The mechanics haven't changed, just how experienced the group is with those mechanics.

RPGuru1331
2008-12-09, 01:13 AM
4e is not actually any better for gamists. In fact, it reduces the impact of player decisions and removes the ability for one character to trump another. Basically, it prevents competition from ever occurring.

..Prevents Competition. Where? How?

Reduces Game impact of decision.. not quite. Are you referring to impermanent build decisions? Or just that you don't crumble like wet tissue paper?


I won't argue your conclusions but I don't think a lack of role playing material is the cause. I'd attribute more to complexity of the mechanics. Until a group knows them very well, they take a lot of attention. Once a group does know them they can fade back into the background and allow more time for other aspects of the game.

I do have a question - how do you see that fitting into GNS? It's the same system and the same group. But styles, behavior, and creative agenda often change over time. The mechanics haven't changed, just how experienced the group is with those mechanics.
Actually, I didn't necessarily mean roleplaying material. I was thinking a lack of real helpful ideas for adventure concepts they theoretically support (A campaign spending some time under the sea being a primary example in my mind)

But you had a question. If I were to classify that in GNS, it'd be as Gamism taking center stage in their mind because of a greater need to tussle with mechanics to play the game, then as they need to tussle less, other goals take the forefront, whatever those happen to be.

Morty
2008-12-09, 05:46 AM
Yer point being? I said Dungeons and Dragons is heavily optimized towards kick down the door, loot the room dungeon crawls. It's not incapable of other things, but the rules are, put diplomatically, less then helpful on a lot of things that aren't.

I don't need rules for roleplaying. As longs as RPing isn't directly made harder, and in D&D it isn't, it doesn't make a difference.


You really haven't noticed? Isn't like.. the entire Player's Guide, aside from a short chapter that includes a few tiny nods to roleplaying (Such as the description of the token Gods Clerics need to poorly represent) a really big book on making and playing an avatar in a big dungeon crawl?

I don't need roleplaying hints in rulebooks, aside from simple descriptions of races and classes. In books, I want rules and in case of MM, desciption of the monsters' ecology. For fluff, I'll read a campaign setting sourcebook.


How can you tell? Have you in fact used it? I'm telling you what I used it for and what it did; If you've never used it, how can you tell where not using it has saved you trouble? I did it both with and without, I've got a baseline.

I have used it, not to mention reading the jolly debates about it. That's how I know it's more or less pointless.

Tormsskull
2008-12-09, 06:36 AM
Reduces Game impact of decision.. not quite. Are you referring to impermanent build decisions? Or just that you don't crumble like wet tissue paper?


Probably that there is less mechanical power disparity between a well-built character and a poorly-built character in 4e as compared to 3e.

Raum
2008-12-09, 08:42 AM
Actually, I didn't necessarily mean roleplaying material. I was thinking a lack of real helpful ideas for adventure concepts they theoretically support (A campaign spending some time under the sea being a primary example in my mind)But a lack of material, whatever type it may be, doesn't prevent role play. Role play may be used / accomplished completely freeform, in a cut throat game of Monopoly, acting for an audience, or in many other situations.

Existence of a bad rule / piece of content may hinder role play. But I don't see how lack of content does the same. In fact, with role play being a generally creative activity, adding content to emulate would simply restrict role play. (On the subject of D&D, this is one of my gripes with Alignment.)


But you had a question. If I were to classify that in GNS, it'd be as Gamism taking center stage in their mind because of a greater need to tussle with mechanics to play the game, then as they need to tussle less, other goals take the forefront, whatever those happen to be.Doesn't that invalidate GNS as a tool for describing game systems? The group's behavior and creative agenda has not changed due to a changing system. Yet it has changed.

RPGuru1331
2008-12-09, 10:31 AM
But a lack of material, whatever type it may be, doesn't prevent role play. Role play may be used / accomplished completely freeform, in a cut throat game of Monopoly, acting for an audience, or in many other situations.

Existence of a bad rule / piece of content may hinder role play. But I don't see how lack of content does the same. In fact, with role play being a generally creative activity, adding content to emulate would simply restrict role play. (On the subject of D&D, this is one of my gripes with Alignment.)
Welp. The content only supports a straight up Dungeon Crawl. Them's the breaks, really. If you don't want help on anything else, so much the better for you, but it doesn't change what the system is remotely good at or designed for. Basically, if your solution is "You can freeform it out!" then you pretty much just told me that the system is useless in telling you how to resolve something.

I mean, I even gave a (light) example. It really does hurt your ability to run a game that (temporarily) goes under the ocean if the only ways down there are magic, and the only way to do anything down there is magic. Especially since there's potential to do something a bit more exciting. But the only real support the system is "Here's some magic bandaids to get down there, and here's a couple monsters that might be down there. We don't have many monsters, but hey, whatever."



Doesn't that invalidate GNS as a tool for describing game systems? The group's behavior and creative agenda has not changed due to a changing system. Yet it has changed.

How do you figure? Just because Dungeons and Dragons is heavily optimized towards gamism doesn't mean everyone playing it is trying to do it. All I said is that the model is useful for labelling what a system is good at, and what players want to do. Just because a system's intent is clear doesn't mean people will want to follow it. I'm trying really hard to imagine how, but I figure if someone REALLY WANTS TO, they could use, say, Nobilis or In Nomine to run a dungeon crawling game, it'd just be a really, really bad idea, and not remotely what the systems were designed to do.



Probably that there is less mechanical power disparity between a well-built character and a poorly-built character in 4e as compared to 3e.
I can assure you that just because you're playing to win doesn't mean you're good at it.



I don't need rules for roleplaying. As longs as RPing isn't directly made harder, and in D&D it isn't, it doesn't make a difference.
If you read the rules to Dungeons and Dragons, entirely from a blank slate, you would rightly wonder where the roleplaying was supposed to fit in though. There's absolutely no encouragement to do so.

Plus, if roleplaying and combat aren't supposed to be totally segregated, why is it that suddenly things that aren't combat can't use rules at all, or can't use anywhere near remotely as many rules? Especially since the combat-related rules aren't related to 'real' complexities. In short, if "Roleplay it!" works for other things, why doesn't it work for combat?



I don't need roleplaying hints in rulebooks, aside from simple descriptions of races and classes. In books, I want rules and in case of MM, desciption of the monsters' ecology. For fluff, I'll read a campaign setting sourcebook.
Well, that's just fine and dandy for you. But these books are also written for newbies. And it does not hurt to do or say things that encourage roleplay in the book that will formulate a newbie's mind on how the game is played..

..Unless you don't care whether or not they roleplay at all. Honestly, my argument is that Dungeons and Dragons doesn't really support roleplaying, or indeed, running games outside of a narrow setup, at all. Every retort you've made has been, in effect "It doesn't matter, because I can do what I want!" Yes, I suppose you can do what you want, but how does that change what the game is trying to do?



I have used it, not to mention reading the jolly debates about it. That's how I know it's more or less pointless.
How so? Because you can whack Dungeons and Dragons with a wrench until it drops what you want? Isn't that more work, rather then less, compared to picking up a new system?

Dacia Brabant
2008-12-09, 10:35 AM
People wrote thousands (millions?) of excellent books before literary theory was ever conceived of.

Just to pick at a nit, literary theory in the Western world at least has been around since Aristotle, and Plato's Socrates utilizes literary criticism at several points. You're right though that literature is, can and probably should be composed completely separate from literary theory.

...

And in regard to the various points that a strictly (simulationist) in-universe (narrativist) Tolkien/Middle-earth RPG can't be properly gamist since it'd be either too imbalanced or too susceptible to loophole-making and therefore a broken game: yes it can be done, you just have to set it in the First (or possibly Second) Age*.

Sure, the Eldar were in their ascendance at that time, but the Edain most definitely were too and the heroes of each were about equal. The source material on dwarves in those days is a little thinner, but as craftsmen they were on par with the Noldor so it wouldn't be a leap to have them balanced in other respects. Maiar though, and probably half-Maiar, would have to be NPCs (that's pretty much what they are in the Quenta Silmarillion anyway), though a half-elf descended from Melian's bloodline wouldn't be gamebreaking as a playable race since they're still elves or men. No hobbits in those days, sorry.

* this is assuming the gameplay desired is hack-n-slash style. You could do Third Age/War of the Ring era this way but it'd have to be very restricted in what character races are allowed in order to be balanced, or not be hack-n-slash and instead focus on resisting corruption and being all inspirational.

Morty
2008-12-09, 01:41 PM
If you read the rules to Dungeons and Dragons, entirely from a blank slate, you would rightly wonder where the roleplaying was supposed to fit in though. There's absolutely no encouragement to do so.

Plus, if roleplaying and combat aren't supposed to be totally segregated, why is it that suddenly things that aren't combat can't use rules at all, or can't use anywhere near remotely as many rules? Especially since the combat-related rules aren't related to 'real' complexities. In short, if "Roleplay it!" works for other things, why doesn't it work for combat?

Because D&D is a combat-focused game. But it doesn't mean that roleplaying is somehow hard. That, and there are rules for out-of-combat activities as well. They're not very well made sometimes, like diplomacy for instance, but that's a mistake of WoTC's part, not intentional design. Again, I don't have to be encouraged to roleplay.


Well, that's just fine and dandy for you. But these books are also written for newbies. And it does not hurt to do or say things that encourage roleplay in the book that will formulate a newbie's mind on how the game is played..

Well, I started my roleplaying career with D&D. I was a complete newb back then, and I started with using SRD before I got the books. I had no problems with roleplaying.


..Unless you don't care whether or not they roleplay at all. Honestly, my argument is that Dungeons and Dragons doesn't really support roleplaying, or indeed, running games outside of a narrow setup, at all. Every retort you've made has been, in effect "It doesn't matter, because I can do what I want!" Yes, I suppose you can do what you want, but how does that change what the game is trying to do?

No, my argument is that as long as roleplaying isn't directly hampered -I honestly don't know how it could be done anyway- I don't think that the game "doesn't support roleplaying". If I can roleplay, and the game doesn't make it harder for me, how can I say the game doesn't support it?


How so? Because you can whack Dungeons and Dragons with a wrench until it drops what you want? Isn't that more work, rather then less, compared to picking up a new system?

It is, which is why I don't try to "whack D&D with a wrench" and I'm honestly puzzled as to where did you pull that from and what does it have to do with GNS system. I just don't need GNS theory, or any theories for that matter, to know whether a system caters to certain gameplay style or not.

RPGuru1331
2008-12-09, 02:07 PM
Because D&D is a combat-focused game. But it doesn't mean that roleplaying is somehow hard. That, and there are rules for out-of-combat activities as well. They're not very well made sometimes, like diplomacy for instance, but that's a mistake of WoTC's part, not intentional design. Again, I don't have to be encouraged to roleplay.
There are piddling rules for pretty much everything that doesn't involve dungeon crawling and monster mashing, dude. It's not just diplomacy. And if it's a combat focused game, and combat is so mechanics based.. doesn't that signal to you that it's a mechanics-focused game?



Well, I started my roleplaying career with D&D. I was a complete newb back then, and I started with using SRD before I got the books. I had no problems with roleplaying.
Well then! I'm glad you roleplay! But can you present a reason why encouraging roleplaying is bad? You keep saying "I don't need it", but you haven't said "I think it's a bad thing".


No, my argument is that as long as roleplaying isn't directly hampered -I honestly don't know how it could be done anyway- I don't think that the game "doesn't support roleplaying". If I can roleplay, and the game doesn't make it harder for me, how can I say the game doesn't support it?
Oh, but haven't you payed attention to this forum? There's so many "Need X to actually do Y" type of actions in DnD! And the idea of requiring a feat (Most commonly) to do it well is something that I've seen broadly supported in the playerbase, notwithstanding it's presence in the rules. Sure, you're allowed to, say, Disarm or Sunder without the feats, but you will suck horridly at it and will be significantly better served with beating people up instead. The more you restrict a spur of the moment decision, especially on little things like tactics, in fact, the more you do restrict roleplay. The only roleplay that's not really restricted is your ability to talk.

And, well. Alignment being called 'objective' strikes me as something that could in fact restrict a lot of other jackets. Alignment really does appear to be a straitjacket, from a rules perspective.


It is, which is why I don't try to "whack D&D with a wrench" and I'm honestly puzzled as to where did you pull that from and what does it have to do with GNS system. I just don't need GNS theory, or any theories for that matter, to know whether a system caters to certain gameplay style or not.
Okay, then how do you quantify whether a system caters to gameplay styles? Clearly you have a method, which does in fact strike a different chord from other posts of yours.

Morty
2008-12-09, 02:19 PM
There are piddling rules for pretty much everything that doesn't involve dungeon crawling and monster mashing, dude. It's not just diplomacy. And if it's a combat focused game, and combat is so mechanics based.. doesn't that signal to you that it's a mechanics-focused game?

Combat-focused and mechanics-focused aren't quite the same thing. I don't claim to be an expert, but I'm sure there are rules-light games out there that focus on combat. But yes, D&D is mechanics-focused, true. That doesn't really hampers roleplaying the way I see it. Mechanics and roleplaying are entirely separate.


Well then! I'm glad you roleplay! But can you present a reason why encouraging roleplaying is bad? You keep saying "I don't need it", but you haven't said "I think it's a bad thing".

I haven't said it, because I don't think it's true. I wouldn't mind if 3ed D&D had some ways to "encourage roleplaying". I just wouldn't use them much.


Oh, but haven't you payed attention to this forum? There's so many "Need X to actually do Y" type of actions in DnD! And the idea of requiring a feat (Most commonly) to do it well is something that I've seen broadly supported in the playerbase, notwithstanding it's presence in the rules. Sure, you're allowed to, say, Disarm or Sunder without the feats, but you will suck horridly at it and will be significantly better served with beating people up instead. The more you restrict a spur of the moment decision, especially on little things like tactics, in fact, the more you do restrict roleplay. The only roleplay that's not really restricted is your ability to talk.

I don't see how is requiring your character to be trained in something -which is, have a feat or invest skill points- to do it well "hampering roleplaying".


And, well. Alignment being called 'objective' strikes me as something that could in fact restrict a lot of other jackets. Alignment really does appear to be a straitjacket, from a rules perspective.

Well, no argument here. Alignment does restrict roleplaying.


Okay, then how do you quantify whether a system caters to gameplay styles? Clearly you have a method, which does in fact strike a different chord from other posts of yours.

I don't have any method. I simply try to imagine a type of game in the system in question. For example, when I imagine a low-magic gritty game in D&D, it's preety clear that it won't work. A political intrigue could technically be done, but there are better systems for it out there.

RPGuru1331
2008-12-09, 02:50 PM
Combat-focused and mechanics-focused aren't quite the same thing. I don't claim to be an expert, but I'm sure there are rules-light games out there that focus on combat. But yes, D&D is mechanics-focused, true. That doesn't really hampers roleplaying the way I see it. Mechanics and roleplaying are entirely separate.
Correct, they're not. Fudge and Nobilis are good fast examples. And I didn't say that because A, B. Just that in DnD, A is B, so DnD is also B. That said, mechanics, especially the way DnD does it, do hamper roleplay, at least to a degree.


I don't see how is requiring your character to be trained in something -which is, have a feat or invest skill points- to do it well "hampering roleplaying".
It's not just to do it well. It's to have even a scant chance of doing it successfully. If you want to Grapple, and didn't take all the feats, you're not going to be able to do it at all. If you want to Bull Rush without the feats, screwed. About the only remotely special maneuver I can think of doing without the feats is Trip. DnD, at least in 3rd edition, makes a very clear point of "Specialize or go home" with skills, in addition. Scattering skill points, except to abuse synergies, is wasteful. "Be awesome or fail" does in fact hamper roleplay.



I don't have any method. I simply try to imagine a type of game in the system in question. For example, when I imagine a low-magic gritty game in D&D, it's preety clear that it won't work. A political intrigue could technically be done, but there are better systems for it out there.

That is a method. You're just using more narrow classifications.

Morty
2008-12-09, 03:09 PM
Correct, they're not. Fudge and Nobilis are good fast examples. And I didn't say that because A, B. Just that in DnD, A is B, so DnD is also B. That said, mechanics, especially the way DnD does it, do hamper roleplay, at least to a degree.

The way I see it, as I said, mechanics and roleplaying are entirely separate.


It's not just to do it well. It's to have even a scant chance of doing it successfully. If you want to Grapple, and didn't take all the feats, you're not going to be able to do it at all. If you want to Bull Rush without the feats, screwed. About the only remotely special maneuver I can think of doing without the feats is Trip. DnD, at least in 3rd edition, makes a very clear point of "Specialize or go home" with skills, in addition. Scattering skill points, except to abuse synergies, is wasteful. "Be awesome or fail" does in fact hamper roleplay.

I still don't see how. I mean, even in a completely freeform game your character can be good at some things and bad at others. And after all, if you're not trained at something, you're going to suck at it. Also, with "specialize or fail" some might argue it wasn't the designers intent to achieve such an effect. It doesn't matter very much in the end, though.
That said, I agree that there are games where character's actions are left to player's whims much more than in D&D. It's just that I don't see it as D&D "hampering" roleplaying.


That is a method. You're just using more narrow classifications.

I don't see it as a "method" unless you count "use commone sense to determine whether game's rules support a certain style of play". In any case, I don't laud my "theory" on the Internet claiming it's somehow universally applicable.

RPGuru1331
2008-12-09, 03:17 PM
The way I see it, as I said, mechanics and roleplaying are entirely separate.
Snap, I said "Do", not "Can". But, uh, no. Sorry. They're not, by necessity, seperate. It's very easy for them to interact. DnD just pretends they're seperate (Except when they're not).


I still don't see how. I mean, even in a completely freeform game your character can be good at some things and bad at others. And after all, if you're not trained at something, you're going to suck at it. Also, with "specialize or fail" some might argue it wasn't the designers intent to achieve such an effect. It doesn't matter very much in the end, though.
That said, I agree that there are games where character's actions are left to player's whims much more than in D&D. It's just that I don't see it as D&D "hampering" roleplaying.
That's not remotely true. I've never been 'trained' to swim, for instance. I can't, for instance, outswim someone who does it for sport, but I sure as hell won't sink like a stone either. And we're talking about, particularly with combat maneuvers, people who are trained, and still can't do things.


I don't see it as a "method" unless you count "use commone sense to determine whether game's rules support a certain style of play". In any case, I don't laud my "theory" on the Internet claiming it's somehow universally applicable.

All I've said you can do with GNS is label what systems are good at doing, and what a player can do. That's not really universally applicable. And surely, you think you can classify games' support by your method, or you wouldn't use it.

Morty
2008-12-09, 03:48 PM
Snap, I said "Do", not "Can". But, uh, no. Sorry. They're not, by necessity, seperate. It's very easy for them to interact. DnD just pretends they're seperate (Except when they're not).

Except, and I think that's the crux of the issue here, I don't think that mechanics defining what a character can and can't do hampers roleplaying. D&D's way of handling it might annoy some people, but I don't think it has anything with roleplaying.


That's not remotely true. I've never been 'trained' to swim, for instance. I can't, for instance, outswim someone who does it for sport, but I sure as hell won't sink like a stone either. And we're talking about, particularly with combat maneuvers, people who are trained, and still can't do things.

Sticking to combat manuevers, you'll suck at, say, tripping people when you don't have feats for it, but only if you do this against other trained people. If a 1st level fighter tried to bull rush or trip a 1st level commoner with non-elite stat array, I think he'd succed, because commoner's lack of any combat capabilities would make up for fighter's penalties. But that said, combat manuevers and few other things could work better. But first, I don't see how it hampers roleplaying -it reduces tactical options, which isn't the same- and second, I'm not sure if it was intentional. As for skills, even someone not trained at, say, swimming will have their Strenght score and can roll luckily. I don't remember it right now, but DC for simply not drowning can't be that hard.


All I've said you can do with GNS is label what systems are good at doing, and what a player can do. That's not really universally applicable. And surely, you think you can classify games' support by your method, or you wouldn't use it.

I was referring to OP and the theory's author in this fragment.

Raum
2008-12-09, 06:09 PM
Welp. The content only supports a straight up Dungeon Crawl. Them's the breaks, really. If you don't want help on anything else, so much the better for you, but it doesn't change what the system is remotely good at or designed for. Basically, if your solution is "You can freeform it out!" then you pretty much just told me that the system is useless in telling you how to resolve something.Role play != conflict resolution. Very few games give more than a few pages of advice on role play. The closest thing I can think of to a mechanic around role play is Wushu's Detail requirement. But even it isn't a how to role play, it simply sets a minimum standard for quantity of role play. D&D's alignment system attempts to categorize and guide role play but it is also limited.


I mean, I even gave a (light) example. It really does hurt your ability to run a game that (temporarily) goes under the ocean if the only ways down there are magic, and the only way to do anything down there is magic. How does that hurt a game? Does it also hurt the game if you're expected to use a hammer and anvil when forging a sword? I simply don't see how requiring a tool when you want to function "hurts" the game.


Especially since there's potential to do something a bit more exciting. But the only real support the system is "Here's some magic bandaids to get down there, and here's a couple monsters that might be down there. We don't have many monsters, but hey, whatever."Are monsters needed? Are there no other threats? No challenges to surmount? Don't the limits imposed by the environment create a challenge?


How do you figure? Just because Dungeons and Dragons is heavily optimized towards gamism doesn't mean everyone playing it is trying to do it. All I said is that the model is useful for labelling what a system is good at, and what players want to do. Just because a system's intent is clear doesn't mean people will want to follow it. I'm trying really hard to imagine how, but I figure if someone REALLY WANTS TO, they could use, say, Nobilis or In Nomine to run a dungeon crawling game, it'd just be a really, really bad idea, and not remotely what the systems were designed to do.Because when a model doesn't fit all known circumstances it cannot be a Theory (http://wilstar.com/theories.htm). It's either a failed hypothesis or just a mental exercise.

horseboy
2008-12-10, 02:19 AM
These questions are closely related.

Let's just take the case of simulationism and gamism.
Imagine that you're trying to recreate the world of Tolkien. The simulationist agenda mandates that you must faithfully represent wizards, elves and dunedain as intrinsically superior to lesser mortals. By contrast, the gamist agenda requires that all player-characters have an equally viable array of tactical options available to them- this is not compatible with lesser mortals being slower, stupider or weaker than wizards, elves, and dunedain. ...
Nope, sorry. I.C.E., the company of "simulationists" actually has a mathematical formula they use when creating races. Thereby making it both "gamist" and "simulationist". And no, Miai are not a playable race in MERPs. Even though there's stats for Gandalf.

He completely misses the point of "simulation". It's not about winning or storyline because that's not the PART of the game that's concerned with such things. That's why the whole notion of their mutual exclusivity is so wrong.
"Narrative" isn't a game design style, it's a play style. I don't do rails. If the players don't want to do something they're free to do it. Or, in other words, if I'm running Shadowrun and the elven fire adept decides she'd rather go visit her father than the fixer, it went up to a vote by me asking "Does anyone want to go with her?" They agreed their characters wanted to go so guess what we did that night? Sure, they threw me a curve ball, but unlike Mr. Breakfast thingie I'm actually a good GM. I looked around and saw Bam Bam's troll had just recovered from implantation of his Mr. Studd implant and asked myself how an uptight, doting, rich, traditional businessman would react to her bringing home a troll with a Coyote sized phallus. There was all kinds of "Look Who's Coming to Dinner" fun that night that was completely player controlled. That doesn't mean Shadowrun is Narrative, and that's how his conundrum is solved. By being a competent GM.

RPGuru1331
2008-12-10, 03:18 AM
Not responding to M0rt. nothing personal, but if you've already named a mechanic that you think hurts roleplay, then vigorously claim that mechanics can't hurt roleplay, I don't know what to tell you.


Role play != conflict resolution. Very few games give more than a few pages of advice on role play. The closest thing I can think of to a mechanic around role play is Wushu's Detail requirement. But even it isn't a how to role play, it simply sets a minimum standard for quantity of role play. D&D's alignment system attempts to categorize and guide role play but it is also limited.
You're correct, roleplay doesn't equal conflict resolution. But if you give nothing but a meager conflict resolution system, to everything but combat? And, uh, really? I'll grant I don't have a lot of books on hand (Grumble. Disk formats and DTRPG reliance. 'This way I don't have to worry about keeping track of dead trees,' I said.) but.. heck, I've seen systems that base advancement on it!


How does that hurt a game? Does it also hurt the game if you're expected to use a hammer and anvil when forging a sword? I simply don't see how requiring a tool when you want to function "hurts" the game.
Because forging is a singular task, and I'm discussing a location being cordoned off?


Are monsters needed? Are there no other threats? No challenges to surmount? Don't the limits imposed by the environment create a challenge?
Sure. Do you have anything to help me say whether they got past the challenge?


Because when a model doesn't fit all known circumstances it cannot be a Theory (http://wilstar.com/theories.htm). It's either a failed hypothesis or just a mental exercise.

Oh. I see the problem, I think. I don't think it's a model, I just use the word because, well, that's what it calls itself. Call it habit, if you wish. It's not a model in any sense of the word anyway; It doesn't really predict anything. I just use it as a set of labels for player motives and what a system's good at.

Raum
2008-12-10, 09:03 AM
<snip>... but.. heck, I've seen systems that base advancement on it!I'd like to read through some of those systems. Any you can recommend?


Because forging is a singular task, and I'm discussing a location being cordoned off?Perhaps I'm missing your point but I don't see how diving is less a singular task than mountain climbing or smithing. I'd expect each to require specific tools to do it well.


Sure. Do you have anything to help me say whether they got past the challenge?Most systems have a core mechanic. SW is "trait roll +/- modifiers => 4 is a success", D&D 3.x is "d20 roll + applicable attribute + applicable skill / ability +/- modifiers => target number based on difficulty is a success". D&D's method isn't the simplest but it's still there.


Oh. I see the problem, I think. I don't think it's a model, I just use the word because, well, that's what it calls itself. Call it habit, if you wish. It's not a model in any sense of the word anyway; It doesn't really predict anything. I just use it as a set of labels for player motives and what a system's good at.I can accept GNS on that basis. I've simply seen too many adherents proselytizing with the assumption (or even statement) that it's applicable to everything. Those who disagree must be heretics!

This thread has been one of the more civil and interesting I've seen on GNS. Thanks!

Ethdred
2008-12-10, 09:17 AM
That's not remotely true. I've never been 'trained' to swim, for instance. I can't, for instance, outswim someone who does it for sport, but I sure as hell won't sink like a stone either. And we're talking about, particularly with combat maneuvers, people who are trained, and still can't do things.

What, you've never had a single swimming lesson in your life? You've never had anyone show you any strokes? You've never even seen anyone swim so you could learn from their example? You must be pretty unique in the current world. However, like most people in the Middle Ages, and people with no ranks in Swim skill in D&D, you would not just sink like a stone (unless you were weighed down) - you could still keep yourself afloat in calm water and probably make some sort of motion - provided you weren't panicking too much from landing in the water.

And you're wrong to say that people without the feats cannot grapple or bull rush or whatever. I have had characters do those things against ECL-appropriate opponents and have a fair degree of success.

But I don't see what that has to do with role-playing. Why is deciding to grapple or not a role-playing decision? It's just tactics, which can be part of role-playing but I've always seen RPing in combat as a much wider thing - it's mainly about the non-mechanical stuff you do and say. So rather than just saying 'I hit him with my sword' it's more 'screaming his most blood-curdling war cries, Thrud the Barbarian brings his great axe down in a two-handed sweep, aiming to cleave the foul creature in twain.'

Samurai Jill
2008-12-10, 11:00 AM
I'm inclined to agree in general, since I've seen Narrativism and Gamism play into a nice big love in, but frankly, in my experience, hard simulationism has the least ability to do so. It can, if one is to claim you can be simulationist to genre trappings, but simulationist to settings (Or god forbid, reality and/or common sense)... eh-heh.
Where have you seen Narrativism and Gamism mix, exactly?


Only if we assume that "brooding" and kicking down doors are mutually exclusive, which they aren't.
The pursuit of tactical coherence and the pursuit of character-based premise often come into conflict, for reasons I've already identified above- it's the classic Gamist/Narrativist conflict. Basically, it's highly unlikely that believable characters could journey together over long time periods without developing serious fallings-out, romantic trysts, brooding depressions, etc. I mean, compare the casts of Battlestar Galactica and Star Trek: TNG, and tell me which series' story arcs have been more dramatically compelling- same thing.

If you're saying that these don't have to interfere with tactics, then you're basically relegating these developments to the state of superficial decoration for the storyline. In narrativism, they're at the fore, shaping the plot as they go.

I've never seen a real need to use this theory, despite being interested in it when I first saw it, which has been my point from the very start. I just don't consider it very reliable, especially seeing how people can't seem to agree about the exact definitions of its parts.
Who are these 'people', exactly? Disagreements over the terms in this thread have been on the part of posters who had (mostly) never heard of the theory before. Any confusion on their behalf is either a result of poor communication on my behalf, misreading, or both. It is not the fault of the theory.


"This is my job, and I am a professional. I put aside everything else and focus on getting the job done here and now. I'm not here to worry about the motivations of my enemies, and I don't care what they have to say. I'm here to get rich."
Yeah, but that's the character EVERYONE IN THE PARTY has to play. Sheesh.



That's nice. For your game. And it it works for your game then that's just tops. Meanwhile, several thousand of us out have been playing fun RPG sessions for 20 years or more without so much as a nod to the vaunted GNS theory.
Again:

It may fairly be asked, how can GNS be applied to design features, when few if any RPG designers know about it, or even care? I use a physics analogy: prior to the insights of Newtonian physics, bridges could be built. Some of them were built rather well. However, in retrospect, we are well aware that in order to build the bridge, the designer must have been at the very least according with Newtonian physics through (1) luck, (2) imitation of something else that worked, (3) use of principles that did not conflict with Newtonian physics in a way that mattered for the job, or (4) a non-articulated understanding of those principles. I consider the analogy to be exact for role-playing games.




Nope, sorry. I.C.E., the company of "simulationists" actually has a mathematical formula they use when creating races. Thereby making it both "gamist" and "simulationist". And no, Miai are not a playable race in MERPs. Even though there's stats for Gandalf.
Mathematical formulae are frequently employed in simulationism, but are not it's defining feature. The pursuit of accuracy is. You cannot have an accurate depiction of Tolkien's races in action while, at the same time, making them equally powerful on an individual basis, because that is simply not how they are described.

He completely misses the point of "simulation".
Who's 'he'?

"Narrative" isn't a game design style, it's a play style. I don't do rails. If the players don't want to do something they're free to do it.
Again, this is necessary but insufficient for narrativism. There must also be the consistent address of premise. I think I made this clear in the OP.



But I don't see what that has to do with role-playing. Why is deciding to grapple or not a role-playing decision? It's just tactics, which can be part of role-playing but I've always seen RPing in combat as a much wider thing...'
Because if the system doesn't provide a coherent and plausible modelling of underlying events, you essentially have to free-form the narration, rather than being able to use the underlying task resolution as a scaffold for your own description. HP mechanics, for instance, eventually mean that every enemy has to die the proverbial death-by-a-thousand-cuts, because the growth of HP far exceeds the growth of damage inflicted.

Samurai Jill
2008-12-10, 11:17 AM
Narrativist Premise is the stated definition of character, in terms of values, reactions, attachments, personal conflicts and issues, etc.
That's the most recognisable form, but there are others- seting-based premise and situation-bsed premise, for example.

Gamist Premise is the definition of character build, in terms of statistics. Is the thing on the sheet a cleric? a mage? a gunslinger? a socialite? an ancient awakened oak tree?

[Simulationist] Premise is the definition of the IC world. Are we playing in the real world? in a steampunk world? in Pre-Columbian America? In a fantasy universe where elves live like Pre-Columbian Americans?

I think you are redefining the term 'premise' here to mean something quite different. A premise is a form of question to which players can give different answers. There's only one correct answer to the question of accuracy, and only one correct answer to what your class/race combo is. Feel free to go ahead with this definition, but I feel it will result in talking at cross-purposes.

c) Players agree that the game's meaning is strongly derived from and dependent upon the interaction between the resulting story and their characters' [insert GNS mode] Premises.
This is just another way of saying the game is about what the game is about. -It's a meaningless condition.


To which I would respond that "GNS modes" don't exist, and that all decent games, period, are responsive to the demands of individual players. This observation has nothing to do with the hypothetical "GNS mode" you're in.
Again, the problem here is that different players DEMAND DIFFERENT THINGS FROM PLAY, depending on the 'premise' of the GNS style as you've defined it, and these different demands easily come into conflict.

But I'm not arguing that. Just because Gamism, Narrativism, and Simulationism are present in many games doesn't mean that most games can be described well by those three principal components.
Oh, on the contrary. Many games cannot- which is why they lead to a great deal of unnecessary frustration on the part of players- because they represent incoherent designs.


If I'm not mistaken, El Dorado is a state of the gaming group's social dynamic that supports a heavily Narrativist/Simulationist creative agenda.
Not quite. El Dorado mans Narrativism and Simulationism acting as exactly equal partners, rather than one or the other being clearly dominant and subordinating the other.

We are narrativist in the sense that we delegate one player, the DM, with the authority and duty to make up the major story arcs, and to force circumstances upon our characters for them to react to in meaningful ways. This avoids the problem you observed in the fanfic communities.
That's NOT NARRATIVIST! That is explicit Illusionism! The whole point to narrativist play is that everyone is engaged in making up the story as they go.

I didn't say "discard", I said "disregard."
A distinction without a difference. Rules you don't enforce are not rules at all.

Rather, the rules (and I'm thinking D&D in particular here) are so scant in certain respects that many aspects of Narrativist play end up being governed by a system that is largely equivalent to freeform.
Entirely accurate.

horseboy
2008-12-10, 01:00 PM
Mathematical formulae are frequently employed in simulationism, but are not it's defining feature. The pursuit of accuracy is. You cannot have an accurate depiction of Tolkien's races in action while, at the same time, making them equally powerful on an individual basis, because that is simply not how they are described.
So, you're claiming that Rolemaster could not have done what it did because your model says it's impossible. I'm sorry, dear, but that doesn't mean it couldn't have done what it did, it means your model is wrong. Your cake is a lie.

Kalirren
2008-12-10, 01:04 PM
I think you are redefining the term 'premise' here to mean something quite different. A premise is a form of question to which players can give different answers. There's only one correct answer to the question of accuracy, and only one correct answer to what your class/race combo is. Feel free to go ahead with this definition, but I feel it will result in talking at cross-purposes.

Indeed, I am attempting to expand the idea of Premise. But I disagree with the notion that there is only one answer to Gamism and Explorationism. With gamism, there's "I'm a WIZAAARD," "I'm a fighter," "I'm a spellcasting druid," "I sit back and let my animal companion do the whacking." I just gave you four answers without even going into race.

With regards to Explorationism, the possibilities really open up: "You guys are all religious zealots in a world that has left you behind," "You guys are all vampires in a world where being immortal isn't fun at all," "You guys are all just adventurers." Again, many answers possible.

By contrast, there is only one answer for Simulationism; accuracy. Again, that's the reason why I think Simulationism is a strawman and moved to Explorationism instead. This is exactly why many people think that either a) this simple and trivially valid extension of terminology causes the base GNS distinctions as creative agendas to become meaningless, or that b) GNS puts Narrativism on a special pedestal. By artificially subdividing and selectively discarding certain aspects of the idea of Premise, which arises directly from the social contract, it is not being fair to Gamism and Explorationism.



Again, the problem here is that different players DEMAND DIFFERENT THINGS FROM PLAY, depending on the 'premise' of the GNS style as you've defined it, and these different demands easily come into conflict.


On the contrary; the reason why I've articulated those separate aspects of Premise is that they are to a large degree independent. A gaming group can be highly invested in the Gamist and Narrativist and Explorationist Premises of their characters, and in my experience this does not tend to create conflict.



Oh, on the contrary. Many games cannot- which is why they lead to a great deal of unnecessary frustration on the part of players- because they represent incoherent designs.


You are clearly confusing the game you play with the system you use to play it. I concede that a poorly designed system often -forces- a group to pick between addressing the different aspects of Premise. And one of the solutions to this problem is to explicitly design a system around one of the aspects of Premise, consciously and pre-emptively sacrificing the others. This is what the GNS model advocates. But my antithesis is there are systems, that when used by a group that possesses an intelligently developed social contract, pose very little difficulty to the simultaneous addressment of all aspects of Premise. Freeform is one such.

Player frustration has one cause: failure of the social contract. It is trivial to see this because the social contract is the only tie that the game, in both IC and OoC dimensions, has to the mental states of players.

To wit:


Rules you don't enforce are not rules at all.

Rules exist within the social contract (that is to say, it is generally agreed upon by the players to use a certain ruleset) and are disregarded when it is necessary to uphold the social contract (that is to say, when the players think that the ruleset is being dumb). I see nothing contradictory about that.



That's NOT NARRATIVIST! That is explicit Illusionism! The whole point to narrativist play is that everyone is engaged in making up the story as they go.

The Illusionism point is one I found very strange when first reading Edwards, and since you seem to have a better understanding of GNS theory than I do, I ask you to enlighten me: What exactly is it about my what-you-call-Illusionism that bars it from being a form of Narrativism? That's what it is to me, and from a first look at your self-proposed two criteria, it seems to fit the bill:

It addresses Premise, and
The story is collaboratively authored on the fly.

I guess you would contradict me on the second point; the power is delegated to the DM to define the big event arcs, so how is it possible (see: impossible thing before breakfast) for the story to be collaboratively authored? My answer is that our agency is not abrogated; yes, it is both bounded and constrained by "circumstance", but in no way are we ever forced to make a character decision that runs contrary to our Narrativist Premise. Hence, our story is certainly not written by the DM alone. All too often, it's been the little details of our actions that have forced dramatic changes of course on part of the DM. This is an element of our social contract, and lends strong legitimacy to the delegated power.

If you argue, "in a Narrativist game, character agency can't be bounded or constrained at all," I would argue that any Narrativist player would not want to act contrary to Premise anyway, so bounding and constraining agency to only those actions that would be in line with Premise would not be a significant imposition.

Hence I think that Illusionism is a form of Narrativist play, and I do not understand your objection.

Returning to El Dorado:


El Dorado means Narrativism and Simulationism acting as exactly equal partners, rather than one or the other being clearly dominant and subordinating the other.

Given what you have said, I cannot fathom what could you possibly mean by "equal", much less "exactly equal"? I was completely unaware that there was any applicable metric by which equal partnership could be ascertained. In your terminology, we are both heavily Illusionist and heavily Simulationist. Neither is clearly dominant. How do you measure degree? I can understand saying that one group is less Simulationist than another group is Simulationist. But to say that one group is as Gamist as they are Narrativist, comparing across creative agendas, seems strange on a categorical level.

The only way I could think of making such a comparison valid is by accepting my expanded theory of Premise, which you have effectively denied, and saying that one group expects Narrativist Premise to be addressed on the same level as Gamist Premise, and that the group puts equal importance on (and derives equal meaning from) those two aspects of the game. This puts the different creative agendas on the same yardstick and makes them commeasurable.

To wit:

This is just another way of saying the game is about what the game is about. -It's a meaningless condition.
The entire point of having that supposedly vacuous statement about deriving meaning from the game is to have a yardstick by which investment in the different creative agendas can be compared, both within and between groups.

RPGuru1331
2008-12-10, 03:34 PM
What, you've never had a single swimming lesson in your life? You've never had anyone show you any strokes? You've never even seen anyone swim so you could learn from their example? You must be pretty unique in the current world. However, like most people in the Middle Ages, and people with no ranks in Swim skill in D&D, you would not just sink like a stone (unless you were weighed down) - you could still keep yourself afloat in calm water and probably make some sort of motion - provided you weren't panicking too much from landing in the water.
They can't really move without swim ranks. And no, no swimming lessons. I have watched people swim before diving in myself, but hey, it's florida. That doesn't say much.


And you're wrong to say that people without the feats cannot grapple or bull rush or whatever. I have had characters do those things against ECL-appropriate opponents and have a fair degree of success.
*Yawn* Lucky Rolls. Free AoO that cancels the grapple without Imp'd. Grapple?


But I don't see what that has to do with role-playing. Why is deciding to grapple or not a role-playing decision? It's just tactics, which can be part of role-playing but I've always seen RPing in combat as a much wider thing - it's mainly about the non-mechanical stuff you do and say. So rather than just saying 'I hit him with my sword' it's more 'screaming his most blood-curdling war cries, Thrud the Barbarian brings his great axe down in a two-handed sweep, aiming to cleave the foul creature in twain.'
That's just description. It's important in roleplaying, but it isn't roleplaying in and of itself. Tactics can and does play a huge role in roleplaying in special types of situations, when your reasons for fighting are not "Kill your foes, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentations of their women". For instance, the Vampire has been dominating the town. Obviously, you don't want to kill the townsfolk, but you don't have the Dispel capacity to break t hem all. Disarms (Well, Sunders, since Disarming is useless unless you physically take their weapon, statistically speaking...) and Nonlethal are the order of the day. Or anyone else you don't want to kill for any reason, especially. The more tactics for different situations are disallowed without specific preparation, the less you make these situations possible. I'm not saying it can't be fun to kill your enemies, see them driven before you, and hear the lamentations of their women (Or more likely, loot), but it can only help RP to allow different tactics to be used when the situation calls for it.


Where have you seen Narrativism and Gamism mix, exactly?
In player motives, mostly. It's really not that hard to manage both, either. Well, depends on the type of gamist. If you have someone seeking a mechanical challenge, you have something to work with. If you have someone who wants to win in the most economical way possible, not so much. With the former though? You just make the story route that is most interesting (Or more properly, that draws the most interest from the players) the most mechanically challenging (Or most mechanically rewarding, that's also easy motive). This doesn't work so well for simulationists, unless you're simulating Discworld. The most interesting story isn't necessarily th e most realistic, for whatever value of reality you're using. It may very well mean going against whatever tenets they need for that game. And, well. I don't think I need to explain why the most mec hanically interesting/rewarding thing being the most realistic doesn't work (Because the rewards and/or interest do n't necessarily follow from the realism).

Also, Weapons of the Gods, where you explicitly get Destiny for weaving an interesting tale for the Gods to watch, but has strong gamist tendencies too (Particularly in combat, since it's a game about Martial Artists).


I'd like to read through some of those systems. Any you can recommend?
Weapons of the Gods, if my memory serves (DTRPG. Format :smallfrown: ) You get Destiny, which is exp by another name, for doing things and being interesting. However, you're capped at a given Destiny based on your Rank. You can advance to the next rank by being Virtuous. Because the Xia, or Just, Virtues are the Virtues of Kung Fu Heroes, and the Corrupt Virtues are the Virtues of Kung Fu Villains. Being Virtuous can be, but i s not by necessity tied to success. As I recall, one of the Xia Virtues is explicitly tied to failure, and persevering despite that failure. It was also possible to be descended from someone (Either by bloodline, or to knowingly or not, carry on their tradition) and gain access to different virtues, such as Xiao, which was Filial Piety (It's not a Martial Virtue, and as a Martial Artist, it's not generally in your purview, but it can be, particularly if you carry on in the martial tradition of what's-her-face.) Also, being Virtuous directly gives you more exp. Not like a percent thing, you ju st get 1 destiny whenever you accomplish a Deed (Which is a Virtuous action)

Of course, if you don't like cheesy/Awesome Martial Arts Movies, it's not a system for you regardless..


Perhaps I'm missing your point but I don't see how diving is less a singular task than mountain climbing or smithing. I'd expect each to require specific tools to do it well.
Well, Diving isn't a singular task if you want to stay down th ere with nonmagical (Or technological) aid, is the thing. Like I said, Pearl Divers stayed down there for HOURS, back in the day.



Most systems have a core mechanic. SW is "trait roll +/- modifiers => 4 is a success", D&D 3.x is "d20 roll + applicable attribute + applicable skill / ability +/- modifiers => target number based on difficulty is a success". D&D's method isn't the simplest but it's still there.
Oh, bloody hell, I did ask a stupid question, didn't I? Sorry, judge and determine the challenge. What modifiers play in, what Target Numbers do I assign, what's the DC, etc.



I can accept GNS on that basis. I've simply seen too many adherents proselytizing with the assumption (or even statement) that it's applicable to everything. Those who disagree must be heretics!
Nah, not my style. Glad you enjoyed the discussion!


So, you're claiming that Rolemaster could not have done what it did because your model says it's impossible. I'm sorry, dear, but that doesn't mean it couldn't have done what it did, it means your model is wrong. Your cake is a lie.

Dude. It's not the 'model' that says it. LotR says it. The Men of Old and the Elves are just way more badass then the Men of the current age and the hobbits. It's not fair, it's just true.

horseboy
2008-12-10, 04:20 PM
Dude. It's not the 'model' that says it. LotR says it. The Men of Old and the Elves are just way more badass then the Men of the current age and the hobbits. It's not fair, it's just true.
Oh sure, elves are so much more badass they just sent 20 of them to Sam Fischer their way into Mordor-wait, no. They had to rely on a hobbit's crazy good save modifiers, because even at 1st level (the beginning of the story) Frodo had the best chance of any of them to make his save. Nerf Hobbits.

RPGuru1331
2008-12-10, 04:37 PM
Oh sure, elves are so much more badass they just sent 20 of them to Sam Fischer their way into Mordor-wait, no. They had to rely on a hobbit's crazy good save modifiers, because even at 1st level (the beginning of the story) Frodo had the best chance of any of them to make his save. Nerf Hobbits.

What good is resistance to corruption if you're not really dealing with the Ring, exactly?

horseboy
2008-12-10, 05:21 PM
What good is resistance to corruption if you're not really dealing with the Ring, exactly?Oh, I'm sure I can find a use for resistance to magic in a fantasy setting.

RPGuru1331
2008-12-10, 05:27 PM
Oh, I'm sure I can find a use for resistance to magic in a fantasy setting.

It's not a resistance to magic. IT's a resistance to corruption. If Hackmaster or Rolemaster or hwatever Master you're using made it a resistance to magic, t hen they in fact failed the simulationist test of not changing things from their setting for gamist reasons.

horseboy
2008-12-10, 05:39 PM
It's not a resistance to magic. IT's a resistance to corruption. If Hackmaster or Rolemaster or hwatever Master you're using made it a resistance to magic, t hen they in fact failed the simulationist test of not changing things from their setting for gamist reasons.So just how do you suppose the magical mcguffin was corrupting people? Offering them pot? If it couldn't use it's magic to make a connection to the hobbits to whisper the sweet nothings that it constantly did to all the others, that's pretty much a resistance to magic.

Rolemaster gameist. Lol. You really might want to play more games before delving into alleged game theory.

RPGuru1331
2008-12-10, 06:10 PM
So just how do you suppose the magical mcguffin was corrupting people? Offering them pot? If it couldn't use it's magic to make a connection to the hobbits to whisper the sweet nothings that it constantly did to all the others, that's pretty much a resistance to magic.

Rolemaster gameist. Lol. You really might want to play more games before delving into alleged game theory.

You put it forth as gamist, not me (Balanced, and accurate). I haven't played Rolemaster, I don't care about Rolemaster. And I have played other games.

And it did use its magic to whisper sweet nothings to Sam and Frodo. They could move on despite it, mostly. Why do you think Frodo wouldn't pitch the ring into Mt. Doom? Because he couldn't connect with the ring, or because he mostly ignored it on his way there?

Basically, what you're seeing:
Fire Elemental is hit with Fireball. Fire Elemental is Immune
"Dude, that Fire Elemental is immune to magic!"
"No, dude, just fire"
"How else can you deliver fire, huh?"
"...."

Besides, if I recall correctly, it wasn't specifically magic that bent wills.

horseboy
2008-12-10, 06:38 PM
You put it forth as gamist, not me (Balanced, and accurate). I haven't played Rolemaster, I don't care about Rolemaster. And I have played other games.I put forth the whole GSN theory is bunk. That Rolemaster, the game GSN'ers love to point to as everything that's wrong with simulationism, according to you qualifies for gamism. Why is this? Because most gamers only play a few systems. What's-his-nose claims be be a game designer and that this is his pet theory so people accept it as true because they don't have the experience with other systems to see that it's an illusion.


And it did use its magic to whisper sweet nothings to Sam and Frodo. They could move on despite it, mostly. Why do you think Frodo wouldn't pitch the ring into Mt. Doom? Because he couldn't connect with the ring, or because he mostly ignored it on his way there?Because the closer to Sauron (and his extensions the Nazgul) were the more power the Ring had. The easier it could batter it's way through his resistances.


Basically, what you're seeing:
Fire Elemental is hit with Fireball. Fire Elemental is Immune
"Dude, that Fire Elemental is immune to magic!"
"No, dude, just fire"
"How else can you deliver fire, huh?"
"...."So you're suggesting hobbits are made of corruption?

RPGuru1331
2008-12-10, 11:06 PM
I put forth the whole GSN theory is bunk. That Rolemaster, the game GSN'ers love to point to as everything that's wrong with simulationism, according to you qualifies for gamism. Why is this? Because most gamers only play a few systems. What's-his-nose claims be be a game designer and that this is his pet theory so people accept it as true because they don't have the experience with other systems to see that it's an illusion
According to you, it qualifies as Gamism. I said nothing of the sort. You claimed it was gamist because it 'balanced the LotR races'. I'm not going to make a judgement on games I haven't played. And you know what? I'm going to repeat myself for the.. fifth? time, because people have stopped misunderstanding me only after making it clear to each individual person.

I do not believe in the GNS 'model'. GNS is nothing more then a series of labels I can apply to what a system excels at, and what a player wants to do (Not even all the time, just at th e moment of application). I do not believe the labels to be mutually exclusive, either.




Because the closer to Sauron (and his extensions the Nazgul) were the more power the Ring had. The easier it could batter it's way through his resistances.
This would be totally correct if y ou had the right resistance!


So you're suggesting hobbits are made of corruption?
No, I'm telling you you confused where the immunity was, based on resisting an effect.

horseboy
2008-12-11, 12:01 AM
According to you, it qualifies as Gamism. I said nothing of the sort. You claimed it was gamist because it 'balanced the LotR races'. You jumped in the middle of a debate on is it possible for something to be both gamist and simulationist you jumped in on the "no" side and then said
then they in fact failed the simulationist test of not changing things from their setting for gamist reasons.So the only reason it could have changed was because it was gamist. My point was that it is both gamist and simulationist because 1) the whole concept is bunk and neither exists. 2) When you simulate the cons as well as the pros things tend to even out. 3)"Balanced gaming" and simulationism is not mutually exclusive.

I'm not going to make a judgment on games I haven't played. And you know what? I'm going to repeat myself for the.. fifth? time, because people have stopped misunderstanding me only after making it clear to each individual person.If you don't believe it why are you defending it so adamantly?

RPGuru1331
2008-12-11, 02:52 AM
You jumped in the middle of a debate on is it possible for something to be both gamist and simulationist you jumped in on the "no" side
That is in fact, not wh at happened. I simply said "Your 'proof' is wrong". Here, let me sh ow you.


Dude. It's not the 'model' that says it. LotR says it. The Men of Old and the Elves are just way more badass then the Men of the current age and the hobbits. It's not fair, it's just true.

You persisted in claiming that Hobbits were somehow balanced because they're resistant to corruption. Which actually would be.. well not quite true, bu t close, within the confines of LotR since the story is about, in part, resisting corruption from a macguffin. However, Middle Earth does not have th at as a necessity, and frankly, it's apparently quite possible to fight him without their special resistance, as the Last Alliance and such show. Though I do think Gamism and Simulationism really can't live side by side, it's got nothing to do with the model, however. Merely my observation th at really intense simulationism has to, by definition, not make concessions to gamism or narrativism. Narritivism just says "Make a cool or interesting story" , Gamism just says "Make cool or interesting mechanics". Neither precludes each other. However, cool or interest ing mechanics, and the method by w hich you pursue a cool or interesting story, can easily conflict with Simulationism, which is the accurate portrayal of a given value of reality (Unless it's Discworld or similar, where the laws of nature explicitly work to bring in an interesting story).


1) the whole concept is bunk and neither exists. 2) When you simulate the cons as well as the pros things tend to even out. 3)"Balanced gaming" and simulationism is not mutually exclusive.
1. Proving nonexistence of a concept will be an interesting laugh. Go.
2. How do you figure that's remotely universally true?
3. Yes. Yes it really, truly, is, unless you explicitly create a setting that includes equality as a universal rule. And frankly, you probably did not think that all the way through and it can be hideously abused.


If you don't believe it why are you defending it so adamantly?
I'm not. Your proof just sucks, and I won't let you sit there smug with a 'win' when you've got nothing. You attacked it with an obviously false, and therefore, weak premise; That the model is wrong because you can 'simulate' LotR and make it balanced, which is blatantly false unless you specifically restrict yourself to the super badass races (Or specifically restrict yourself to the suckier ones). However, that's still not balancing the races, just removing the different options.