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    Default Re: Why collaborative storytelling is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    The insult is in someone saying "this is what's going on my head", and you replaying "No, you're wrong, you're kidding yourself, I know better than you do what's going on in your head".
    Is that what I said, though? And once you assertain that, yes, it is - are you really sure? Do you get the impression, at this time, that I'm implying it is? Or could there conceivably be a chance of misunderstanding or miscommunication? Again, even in advance I'm willing to accept blame for any such things.

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    Default Re: Why collaborative storytelling is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Pleh View Post
    You keep assuming that a story must have a larger meaning in order to be a story.
    I do? Where? I didn't say anything about meaning.


    Quote Originally Posted by Pleh View Post
    This is not true. I can make up any number of meaningless stories you like. We can retroactively apply interpretive meanings to these meaningless stories and they will still be stories if we don't.

    Saying this principle is universal is no judgment on anyone's life, just a consequence of the definition that story is a series of events.
    And as repeating noted above, defining story as "any sequence of events" reduces the word to meaninglessness -- it makes EVERYTHING a story, which is total nonsense.
    It is one thing to suspend your disbelief. It is another thing entirely to hang it by the neck until dead.

    Verisimilitude -- n, the appearance or semblance of truth, likelihood, or probability.

    The concern is not realism in speculative fiction, but rather the sense that a setting or story could be real, fostered by internal consistency and coherence.

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    Default Re: Why collaborative storytelling is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Kaptin Keen View Post
    Is that what I said, though?
    Yes. It is. And you haven't been alone in doing it.
    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2017-12-31 at 04:22 PM.
    It is one thing to suspend your disbelief. It is another thing entirely to hang it by the neck until dead.

    Verisimilitude -- n, the appearance or semblance of truth, likelihood, or probability.

    The concern is not realism in speculative fiction, but rather the sense that a setting or story could be real, fostered by internal consistency and coherence.

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    Default Re: Why collaborative storytelling is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    I do? Where? I didn't say anything about meaning.




    And as repeating noted above, defining story as "any sequence of events" reduces the word to meaninglessness -- it makes EVERYTHING a story, which is total nonsense.
    There are still many things that would not be a story. Here's a short list:
    Flora
    Fauna
    Political systems
    Colors
    Science
    Articles of clothing
    Philosophies
    Human bodies
    Anything made of matter or energy.

    Compared to EVERYTHING, Stories account for a teeny tiny fraction of what Everything encompasses.

    Story is broad, yes. I'm sorry you dislike that the definition for Story is broad. But you'll need to deal with it. That's what it is. If you want to differentiate between sequences of events and other elements of Fiction, that's cool. We can do that. But we can't pretend that only the subdivided bits you like don't count as story if they still do.

    I'm sorry Ron Edwards assertes dumb things a decade ago that nobody really uses anymore, but at some point you need tp let that old corpse stay in its grave for longer than 6 minutes before being dragged out as a boogeyman again.

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    Default Re: Why collaborative storytelling is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    And as repeating noted above, defining story as "any sequence of events" reduces the word to meaninglessness -- it makes EVERYTHING a story, which is total nonsense.
    @Max_Killjoy, since you've studiously not provided a definition, can I try to extrapolate one from what you've said? Correct me where I've gone wrong, please.

    Define: Story, noun. A work containing the following elements:
    1. retelling a sequence of connected events,
    2. intentionally shaped into a coherent whole,
    3. and containing one or more of plot, character development, setting, narrative, dialogue, or pacing.


    Is this a fair (working) definition for your purposes? Please correct any mis-statements.
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    Default Re: Why collaborative storytelling is a meaningless phrase

    If a series of events occurs and nobody records or recounts it... is it a story?

    If a tree falls in the woods and nobody is there to hear it, does it make a sound?

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    Default Re: Why collaborative storytelling is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Aliquid View Post
    If a series of events occurs and nobody records or recounts it... is it a story?

    If a tree falls in the woods and nobody is there to hear it, does it make a sound?
    Ha! I thought this exact thing.

    A sequence of events is not in and of itself a story. It only becomes a story when there is a thinking entity there organizing it into a narrative.

    A tree falls in the woods: Not a story.

    I see a tree fall and say to myself "That tree is falling": Story.

    I see a fallen tree and say to my friend "That tree fell": Story.

    I see a tree and say "That tree is going to fall": Story.
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    Default Re: Why collaborative storytelling is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    That's just it. I, personally, don't see those as usefully different things in this context. As long as there is a connected series of events, there's a story being told. I see the universe as telling stories all the time--some fragmentary, some observed only in hind-sight, some more formal.

    I don't understand why you believe that stories can only be told after, not during the events. Take serial fiction (probably the most widespread and popular form of fiction). In many cases, the end of the story (or even the later events!) are unknown to the writers when the series is first published. Or they're known in principle, but are changed based on feedback from others (readers/watchers/critics/etc).

    Stories are almost fractal--there are layers of sub-stories in every story, going down several levels.

    Take a long-running TV show, book, or manga series. There are multiple layers (starting at the smallest):

    1a) The episode (chapter, etc). Often this is only a fragment of a scene, especially in anime, although it might also be many scenes. The time period covered is anywhere from a few seconds (Dragonball Z is a prime offender here) to thousands of years. In RPG terms, this is a session.

    1b) The scene. Scenes too are of variable lengths, although unlike episodes they don't tend to start or stop in the middle. Multiple scenes might happen in an episode, or one scene might take multiple episodes. An encounter (social, combat, or otherwise) is the closest RPG equivalent.

    2) An arc (character or plot). This is a set of scenes that all continue the narrative about either a plot point or a character's development. Multiple arcs might be in motion simultaneously. In RPG terms this is usually an objective or (sometimes) an adventure/module.

    3) The sur-story--this is the entire narrative from start to finish. Includes multiple arcs. May or may not ever be finished (see canceled TV shows, unfinished book series, etc). The RPG equivalent is a campaign.

    4) The setting meta-narrative--this is to the sur-story as an arc is to the sur-story. Each sur-story changes the setting; the meta-narrative sets the range of possible stories. Some settings lack this element (or only have it occasionally). RPGs call this the setting meta (OWoD, TDE, and L5R are notorious for having strong meta-narratives).

    All of these are stories in every meaningful sense.

    You're too caught up in formal definitions and can't see how the words are commonly (and rightfully!) used.
    The issue isn't that I'm saying stories CANNOT be told during the events.

    The issue is that others are saying ALL sequences of events MUST BE stories while / as soon as they occur, and I'm saying "No, they don't have to be, they only are if you're actively engaged in storytelling... and just playing your character in a game is not storytelling".

    The reason I keep coming back to "there's a difference between events that stories can be told about, and actually telling a story" is because some are trying to use the (uselessly broad) definition of story, "any sequence of events", to then assert that anything with a sequence of events is active storytelling, by conflating "story" and "storytelling".


    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    @Max_Killjoy, since you've studiously not provided a definition, can I try to extrapolate one from what you've said? Correct me where I've gone wrong, please.

    Define: Story, noun. A work containing the following elements:
    1. retelling a sequence of connected events,
    2. intentionally shaped into a coherent whole,
    3. and containing one or more of plot, character development, setting, narrative, dialogue, or pacing.


    Is this a fair (working) definition for your purposes? Please correct any mis-statements.
    It's getting there, and has the key elements of being more usefully constrained such that it doesn't just mean "everything that ever happened everywhere to anyone or anything" and including the intent to tell a story.
    It is one thing to suspend your disbelief. It is another thing entirely to hang it by the neck until dead.

    Verisimilitude -- n, the appearance or semblance of truth, likelihood, or probability.

    The concern is not realism in speculative fiction, but rather the sense that a setting or story could be real, fostered by internal consistency and coherence.

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    Default Re: Why collaborative storytelling is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Blackjackg View Post
    Ha! I thought this exact thing.

    A sequence of events is not in and of itself a story. It only becomes a story when there is a thinking entity there organizing it into a narrative.

    A tree falls in the woods: Not a story.

    I see a tree fall and say to myself "That tree is falling": Story.

    I see a fallen tree and say to my friend "That tree fell": Story.

    I see a tree and say "That tree is going to fall": Story.

    As far as I'm concerned none of those is a story, they're all direct or solidly inferred observations of fact.
    It is one thing to suspend your disbelief. It is another thing entirely to hang it by the neck until dead.

    Verisimilitude -- n, the appearance or semblance of truth, likelihood, or probability.

    The concern is not realism in speculative fiction, but rather the sense that a setting or story could be real, fostered by internal consistency and coherence.

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    Default Re: Why collaborative storytelling is a meaningless phrase

    I really am becoming curious, Max_Killjoy: Do you play tabletop RPGs? And if so, why?

    You don't have to answer, of course. It's a personal question. But I'm curious.
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    Default Re: Why collaborative storytelling is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    The issue isn't that I'm saying stories CANNOT be told during the events.

    The issue is that others are saying ALL sequences of events MUST BE stories while / as soon as they occur, and I'm saying "No, they don't have to be, they only are if you're actively engaged in storytelling... and just playing your character in a game is not storytelling".

    The reason I keep coming back to "there's a difference between events that stories can be told about, and actually telling a story" is because some are trying to use the (uselessly broad) definition of story, "any sequence of events", to then assert that anything with a sequence of events is active storytelling, by conflating "story" and "storytelling".
    But you still haven't defined the key parts to your personal definition (which is very different than what everyone else seems to be using). You have a bad habit of doing this--you assert things without actually discussing them, while claiming that others are wrong by Max_Killjoy fiat. I'm trying to get you to actually commit to a definition that can be discussed.

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    It's getting there, and has the key elements of being more usefully constrained such that it doesn't just mean "everything that ever happened everywhere to anyone or anything" and including the intent to tell a story.
    "Getting there" isn't good enough. Can we agree to analyze this definition, or should it change? And if it should, how, specifically. Without agreed on definitions, this is just a "I shot you!" "No you didn't!" back-and-forth.
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    Default Re: Why collaborative storytelling is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    Yes. It is. And you haven't been alone in doing it.
    It's not though. And it's like, no matter how many times I tell you so, you're so locked down on feeling insulted, there's not convincing you otherwise. I just dunno what to tell you.

    Seriously. You should try. Go back, and actually try to read what I'm saying in terms of what I'm saying, not what you're hearing. It's a basic trait of communication - sender/receiver. I promise you: I'm not trying to insult you. I swear.

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    Default Re: Why collaborative storytelling is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    But you still haven't defined the key parts to your personal definition (which is very different than what everyone else seems to be using). You have a bad habit of doing this--you assert things without actually discussing them, while claiming that others are wrong by Max_Killjoy fiat. I'm trying to get you to actually commit to a definition that can be discussed.



    "Getting there" isn't good enough. Can we agree to analyze this definition, or should it change? And if it should, how, specifically. Without agreed on definitions, this is just a "I shot you!" "No you didn't!" back-and-forth.

    This drives me crazy. I don't need to design a bridge to tell someone that an obviously flawed bridge is going to fail. I don't need to provide a definition to point out that a definition of "story" that includes the entire universe and everything that ever happened is a flawed definition that's not going to provide any utility and lead to nothing but miscommunication, etc.
    It is one thing to suspend your disbelief. It is another thing entirely to hang it by the neck until dead.

    Verisimilitude -- n, the appearance or semblance of truth, likelihood, or probability.

    The concern is not realism in speculative fiction, but rather the sense that a setting or story could be real, fostered by internal consistency and coherence.

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    Default Re: Why collaborative storytelling is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    Can we agree to analyze this definition, or should it change? And if it should, how, specifically. Without agreed on definitions, this is just a "I shot you!" "No you didn't!" back-and-forth.
    Exactly

    Unless we actually understand each definition of “story” being used and accept that people use different definitions... this conversation is as useful as a kid from Manchester arguing with a kid from Dallas about the shape of a football.

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    Default Re: Why collaborative storytelling is a meaningless phrase

    I will contribute my (working) definition of "story":

    Story (n): any set of one or more scenes that are causally or otherwise directly related to one another.

    Scene (n): a set of one or more events with continuity of one or more of the following elements:
    • location
    • characters
    • narration
    • dialogue


    Often contains a distinct beginning and end or a distinct transition between scenes.
    Yes, this is a very broad definition. But it's a broad topic. Narrowing it further cuts out things that are clearly stories, in my opinion.
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    Default Re: Why collaborative storytelling is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    This drives me crazy. I don't need to design a bridge to tell someone that an obviously flawed bridge is going to fail. I don't need to provide a definition to point out that a definition of "story" that includes the entire universe and everything that ever happened is a flawed definition that's not going to provide any utility and lead to nothing but miscommunication, etc.
    But that's a huge strawman. No one's claiming that, for instance, a still-frame photograph is a story. It may be an element in a story, but it's not a stand-alone story. So you're being strongly hyperbolic. Which is another bad habit I've seen with you--it's all or nothing. Either people accept your (highly unclear and certainly unstated) definition or their being completely irrational and refusing to accept the "obviously flawed" (in ways you won't explain) nature of their definition.

    This is exactly what happens when you discuss railroading with Darth Ultron. Just in more pleasant guise. But the same level of utility.

    HIDDEN DEFINITIONS ARE USELESS FOR DISCUSSION.
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    Default Re: Why collaborative storytelling is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Blackjackg View Post
    I really am becoming curious, Max_Killjoy: Do you play tabletop RPGs? And if so, why?

    You don't have to answer, of course. It's a personal question. But I'm curious.
    I used to play in multiple campaigns, two or three days a week depending on what was going on. Then everyone I gamed with moved away, got married and had kids, just flaked completely out, or whatever.

    Other than one session of Planet Mercenary at GenCon last year, I haven't played in almost a decade now.


    Reasons for playing... exploring a character and their life, getting into their head and their motivations and reactions, seeing them do things I can't do and go places I can't go, immersion in other worlds... I love worldbuilding.
    It is one thing to suspend your disbelief. It is another thing entirely to hang it by the neck until dead.

    Verisimilitude -- n, the appearance or semblance of truth, likelihood, or probability.

    The concern is not realism in speculative fiction, but rather the sense that a setting or story could be real, fostered by internal consistency and coherence.

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    Default Re: Why collaborative storytelling is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    But that's a huge strawman. No one's claiming that, for instance, a still-frame photograph is a story.
    I just posted a bunch of quotes from this thread with people saying exactly what you're accusing me of making up.

    http://www.giantitp.com/forums/shows...&postcount=117

    How are they not saying that everything that ever happened (which is the entire universe, since it's not a steady state) is "a story"?


    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    So you're being strongly hyperbolic. Which is another bad habit I've seen with you--it's all or nothing.
    Oh bullcrap. I'm not the one insisting that every person ever is always engaged in "telling stories", I'm not the one insisting that "story" means "universe", and I'm not the one calling people delusional for not thinking that everything is stories.
    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2017-12-31 at 07:50 PM.
    It is one thing to suspend your disbelief. It is another thing entirely to hang it by the neck until dead.

    Verisimilitude -- n, the appearance or semblance of truth, likelihood, or probability.

    The concern is not realism in speculative fiction, but rather the sense that a setting or story could be real, fostered by internal consistency and coherence.

    Planet Mercenary RPG Discussion

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    Default Re: Why collaborative storytelling is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    I just posted a bunch of quotes from this thread with people saying exactly what you're accusing me of making up.


    http://www.giantitp.com/forums/shows...&postcount=117
    Nope. They're saying that sequences of events can be a story (important distinguishing words in bold). That's not the entire universe and anything that has happened in it (which is your claim). That's not even close. None of those claim that facts are stories, only that stories can be created from facts (a very different claim).

    I'm really really annoyed by attempts to make me shadow-box--to take the responsibility to analyze vague statements that change every time and are often naught but hyperbole and exaggeration.

    There's a phrase that describes those who claim that a bridge is "obviously flawed" without actually showing their work (especially when other people with similar expertise claim it's just fine): ipse dixit. You have to show your work. Don't just say "no it's not" and dodge attempts to get you to clarify or even stake an actual firm position. That's bad discussion practice.

    I can see that it is this discussion that is meaningless. Without a clear definition that both sides are willing to stipulate to, it's just a shouting match. Which is no way to enter a new year (if you haven't already).

    Have a good evening and a happy New Year.
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    Default Re: Why collaborative storytelling is a meaningless phrase

    Everything that exists (at least as we understand it), even abstract ideas, have a cause for coming into existence. This cause and effect can always be related through story.

    So everything is a story because everything has a story. This isn't meaningless at all, because it just says that everything has some minimal level of meaning, even if only that it exists (or else it wouldn't).

    You can also say that everything that has physical form also has some finite amount of kinetic energy. That doesn't make kinetic energy useless or meaningless, but it doesn't also make it relevant or important to every application.

    It's not that everything having story makes the idea of story meaningless. It makes the ubiquity of story elements trivial.

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    Default Re: Why collaborative storytelling is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    Nope. They're saying that sequences of events can be a story (important distinguishing words in bold). That's not the entire universe and anything that has happened in it (which is your claim). That's not even close. None of those claim that facts are stories, only that stories can be created from facts (a very different claim).
    If they'd said "can" from the start, we wouldn't be here.

    But they didn't. They've insisted that it does and must -- that if you're roleplaying, you're storytelling. And some went so far as to say if you're alive and breathing, you're telling a story.

    I've never said that no one is ever telling a story, or that an RPG session can't be a form of storytelling. I've said that I'm not telling a story... and the response has repeatedly been one form or another of "yes you are, even if you don't think you are." If it could have been accepted from the start that whether playing an RPG is also storytelling is a personal preference instead of some people trying to play amateur psychologist hour and assert that they know better than others what's going on in other's heads, we wouldn't be in this place.


    I'll go back and actually quote the posts again if necessary, it's right here.

    And oh hey, someone literally posted what you're telling me I'm making up right after you posted.

    Emphasis added:

    Quote Originally Posted by Pleh View Post
    Everything that exists (at least as we understand it), even abstract ideas, have a cause for coming into existence. This cause and effect can always be related through story.

    So everything is a story because everything has a story.
    This isn't meaningless at all, because it just says that everything has some minimal level of meaning, even if only that it exists (or else it wouldn't).

    You can also say that everything that has physical form also has some finite amount of kinetic energy. That doesn't make kinetic energy useless or meaningless, but it doesn't also make it relevant or important to every application.

    It's not that everything having story makes the idea of story meaningless. It makes the ubiquity of story elements trivial.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Blackjackg View Post
    Ok, maybe I'm being the psychological nitpicker on this, but I can guarantee that you are. We all tell ourselves stories about our lives constantly. When I reflect on my past, or make predictions about how my future will go, I am creating a story, if only for myself. Seriously, there's a whole branch of psychotherapy built around this. Even that bit up there, where you say "as I live my life, I am neither living nor creating a story" is a story.
    Quote Originally Posted by Aliquid View Post
    first off, this has nothing to do with you personally, so I find it odd that you are affronted by the statement. It is about people’s definition of the word. By their definition everyone’s life is a story. You might as well say “how dare you suggest that I exist”
    Quote Originally Posted by Blackjackg View Post
    Is it, though? I'm talking about something that literally every conscious, sentient person does. This includes me and everyone I love. To say that one is not doing it is to invent one's own definitions.
    Quote Originally Posted by Aliquid View Post
    HOW you live your life is completely and totally irrelevant to this definition of “story”. If you are alive, your life creates a story, no matter what you do or don’t do. The only way to avoid this is to not exist in the first place.

    Heck. Your posts on this thread are telling me a story about who you are.
    Quote Originally Posted by Pleh View Post
    More than that. Every living and inanimate thing can have a story. Material and abstract.

    A story can be a simple recollection of a series of events.

    Usually conscious attempts to story-tell will be best served to carefully craft the narrative structure such that the story produces a very particular effect.

    But that's an evolved method of story. The primordial elements of story just involve recounting things that allegedly have happened.
    Quote Originally Posted by Blackjackg View Post
    I disagree with the implication that because a definition is broadly applicable, it must be meaningless. Pretty much everything around us is matter, but that doesn't mean matter is a meaningless term. Maybe it doesn't bear mentioning all the time, but when someone says "I don't like matter," it's not unreasonable to remind them that all their favorite stuff is made out of it.

    Ok, I can acknowledge that even with my fairly broad definition of story, it is possible to create settings and characters without it being a form of storytelling. I could paint a picture, or write a character synopsis; create a static work. But the moment that something happens in that scene, or the character does something, that is a story. It could be a good story, or a bad story, or a pointless story, but it is by any reasonable definition a story.

    When I choose to share my characters and settings in the form of a tabletop roleplaying game instead of as a painting or synopsis, it is because the story is, on some level, the point. I feel that these things are most interesting when they are presented in a particular order, or interacted with in some way. If you can suggest another reason someone might choose the RPG medium over any other that does not describe the creation of some kind of narrative, I'd be interested to hear it, because I am wracking my brains trying to think of one.
    Quote Originally Posted by Florian View Post
    You´re basically kidding yourself. We're humans, were prone to connecting the dots and everything will create a narrative in hindsight. What you do is outsourcing the dot-making, nothing else.
    Quote Originally Posted by Koo Rehtorb View Post
    Merely picking a certain type of character is showing a desire to tell a certain type of story. You don't make your character take out of character decisions for the sake of "the story". You make a character who will do interesting things which will lead to an interesting story.
    Quote Originally Posted by Kaptin Keen View Post
    A story doesn't have to be anything other than a sequence of decisions and events. And we can care about .... all manner of things for all manner of reasons. RPG's are different things to different people, but what makes an rpg something different from a tactical or strategy game is the story. Customization is as big a part of (some) strategy games as rpg's.

    But I think you misunderstand me. I'm not trying to tell you what you do or should enjoy - or defining your games, or putting you in a box you feel you don't belong in.

    RPG's are, as I said, two things: System and story. Without the story, it's a tactics game. Conversely, if you add story to a tactics game, you generally get something akin to an rpg. Not always. Not every 'campaign mode' is the same as 'rpg elements'. But often enough to make the point.

    I think I can safely say that if you dislike telling stories, you'd be terribly bored with any game I run - and vice versa. I care not a whit about systems, except in so far as they serve as tools to promote the story.

    But that's the point: We don't need to enjoy the same thing, but denying that it's all part of the game feels just a little strained to me.
    Quote Originally Posted by Jormengand View Post
    I mean, real people's actions are stories if you tell people about them. And in order for an RPG character to do something, usually, you have to tell everyone about what your RPG character's actions are.
    Quote Originally Posted by Knaight View Post
    RPG characters don't decide to do something, after which events result. People decide to describe them doing something, and then people describe events resulting. These descriptions didn't exist beforehand*, people had to make them on the spot. It's the part where people are describing the fictional interactions of characters and/or setting where the storytelling happens. That part doesn't exist when a real person decides to do something for most of what fits in the category "something".

    *Absent certain highly restrictive modules with a lot of boxed text run in the most boring fashion possible.
    Quote Originally Posted by MxKit View Post
    My thing is, even if you're not thinking in terms of "we're going to set up satisfying character arcs and a narrative resolution over the course of this campaign that wraps up the loose ends!" ...in many games that don't end prematurely, this happens.

    If a character has a goal, and over the course of the game they either reach that goal or fail at it, that's a character arc. If trouble is brewing in the kingdom and it eventually turns out that devils are behind it and the characters head to the Nine Hells, manage to defeat the demons, and save the day by the end of the game... That's a narrative resolution. The overarching plot of the game has been resolved.

    No one at the table might be actively thinking in those terms, but games that have a decent amount of roleplay and a plot wrt what's actually happening in the game, rather than just "this is a dungeon crawl," wind up having... well, plots. Characters moving through plot makes a story. And in a good game, it's not just the DM putting the entire thing on rails, hence saying that it's not just the DM's story (and hence the fairly common DM advice that if he just wants the players to be on rails to tell the story he wants to tell, he should write a book rather than trying to DM it)—everyone is collaborating on telling it because the players are making decisions for their own characters, and those decisions impact what happens and especially at higher levels impact the game world itself.

    Story emerges from characters interacting with and moving through plot. And because everyone is working together rather than the player's decisions not having any impact at all—at least, in a good game—that's why it gets called a collaborative story. I'm just not seeing the confusion here or the "well if you use this phrase you obviously just don't know what it means and want to sound smart while saying nothing." Or, to be honest, you repeated insistence that you can't actually have a story until after the fact. If people get up on a stage and improv a full narrative, with character arcs and narrative resolution, and people go "wow, that wound up being a pretty incredible story!" it's just weird to insist that, no, it was NOT a story, because while the events are emerging there's not actually a story, it's only a story when recounted after the fact.
    Quote Originally Posted by Kaptin Keen View Post
    Nonsense.

    RPG's consist of two things. Rolling dice and telling stories. Either of these things are possible without the other. If you're rpg'ing with the dice, there is an element of a game of chance in your collaborative storytelling. This is a variable: Sometimes it's more correct to state that there is an element of collaborative storytelling in your game of chance.

    So at one extreme of the spectrum, you're all about the dice rolls, and at the other - all about the storytelling.


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    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    I'm really really annoyed by attempts to make me shadow-box--to take the responsibility to analyze vague statements that change every time and are often naught but hyperbole and exaggeration.

    There's a phrase that describes those who claim that a bridge is "obviously flawed" without actually showing their work (especially when other people with similar expertise claim it's just fine): ipse dixit. You have to show your work. Don't just say "no it's not" and dodge attempts to get you to clarify or even stake an actual firm position. That's bad discussion practice.

    I can see that it is this discussion that is meaningless. Without a clear definition that both sides are willing to stipulate to, it's just a shouting match. Which is no way to enter a new year (if you haven't already).

    I don't need to tell you what something is to tell you what it isn't. I don't need to provide an exacting and bullproof definition of "dog" to point to a tree and say "that is not a dog".

    If the bridge is missing half its cables or is sagging in the middle, I don't need to "show my work" to point out that something is very wrong.

    I've already explained why I think the "anything that every happens anywhere to anything or anyone" definition is bad -- because as one of its advocates just pointed it, includes everything and everyone ever -- I don't need to give you a definition to nitpick and attack in order to point out that other definition is useless.

    ~~~~

    If certain people had just said "hey I view what I'm doing when I play my character as telling a story" or "the approach to gaming that makes it the most enjoyable for me is as if I'm collaborating on a story", we all could have agreed to approach gaming our own way. But nope, when some of us said "we aren't storytelling when we game, we're just doing these other things"... the response from those certain people just had to be "Yes you are even if you don't think you are".
    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2017-12-31 at 08:57 PM.
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  22. - Top - End - #142
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    Default Re: Why collaborative storytelling is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    But they didn't. They've insisted that it does and must -- that if you're roleplaying, you're storytelling. And some went so far as to say if you're alive and breathing, you're telling a story.
    You are misquoting.

    If you are alive and breathing you are creating a story. You aren’t telling a story. Storytelling requires the telling part. A story can exist without the telling. And you can tell something that isn’t a story. “Storytelling” requires both parts.

    With an rpg you are “telling” by communicating with your fellow players. And the thing you are “telling” is what characters are doing in a series of events. i.e. a story.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    The issue isn't that I'm saying stories CANNOT be told during the events.

    The issue is that others are saying ALL sequences of events MUST BE stories while / as soon as they occur, and I'm saying "No, they don't have to be, they only are if you're actively engaged in storytelling... and just playing your character in a game is not storytelling".

    The reason I keep coming back to "there's a difference between events that stories can be told about, and actually telling a story" is because some are trying to use the (uselessly broad) definition of story, "any sequence of events", to then assert that anything with a sequence of events is active storytelling, by conflating "story" and "storytelling".
    Yea, I'm saying this too: you can't tell a story during the events. And this is even more so when your part of the events. And your part is small. And you have very limited control.

    Everyone seems to be saying that if they have a single character in a game take a bite of an apple it is somehow some type of amazing story...when it's just an action.

    Quote Originally Posted by PhoenixPhyre View Post
    This is exactly what happens when you discuss railroading with Darth Ultron. Just in more pleasant guise. But the same level of utility.
    It does come back to the same problem: Everyone keeps saying Everything is Everything. Everything is Railroading. Everything is Optimzation. Everything is a Story.

    A story has a start, middle and end....and a path that must be followed along from start to middle to end.

    So in a classic RPG, like D&D, the DM is the one that makes the Story. This is a big part of the DM's job. The players, when they sit down to play the game, are playing though the story the DM made and the players have to stay on the story path to tell the story. The players can add details and spice to the story, but they are not creating anything, they are just adding to the story.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aliquid View Post
    A story can exist without the telling. And you can tell something that isn’t a story. “Storytelling” requires both parts.
    I'm not sure if I agree with that. Is a story a story before it has been "told"? And by told I don't means told to someone else, but sort of formed into a chain by a mind who views them as a sequence. There are little stories I form in my head, and many of them never travel beyond there. And I am pretty sure those count as a story. But just things happening by themselves don't seem like enough.

    I realized this basically comes down to "If a tree falls in the forest, and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?" One of the answers I have heard is no, because sound is not the vibration in the air, but your perception of it.

    The more correct answer is of course: does it matter?

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    Default Re: Why collaborative storytelling is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Aliquid View Post
    You are misquoting.

    If you are alive and breathing you are creating a story. You aren’t telling a story. Storytelling requires the telling part. A story can exist without the telling. And you can tell something that isn’t a story. “Storytelling” requires both parts.
    Creating, telling, whatever, it still rests on the notion that any sequence of events is a "story"... or worse, the notion that our lives are somehow narrative in nature.


    Quote Originally Posted by Aliquid View Post
    With an rpg you are “telling” by communicating with your fellow players. And the thing you are “telling” is what characters are doing in a series of events. i.e. a story.
    And there's the core problem.

    Sure, it's what you're doing... it is not however what some others are doing.
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    Default Re: Why collaborative storytelling is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    I'm not sure if I agree with that. Is a story a story before it has been "told"? And by told I don't means told to someone else, but sort of formed into a chain by a mind who views them as a sequence. There are little stories I form in my head, and many of them never travel beyond there. And I am pretty sure those count as a story. But just things happening by themselves don't seem like enough.

    I realized this basically comes down to "If a tree falls in the forest, and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?" One of the answers I have heard is no, because sound is not the vibration in the air, but your perception of it.

    The more correct answer is of course: does it matter?
    That's the problem associated with inherent existence of intangibles. Like the number 4. Does it exist? In reality?

    Stories exist. Of that I'm sure. When do they start counting as such? No clue.

    Moving away from the more general topic, on the topic of stories and story-telling in fiction (specifically RPGs here), if I use my definition above of story, then story-telling must be something like

    Story-telling--the act of forming stories by connecting events to form scenes.
    Using this definition (and the definition of scene), participating in an RPG is participating in story-telling. Everyone is involved in connecting act with outcome--"he did this, I'm going try that. It worked. Yay!" or "he did that, I'm going to try this. It failed. Boo!" Scenes are formed collectively in the imaginations of the participants. Since the scenes are causally connected, a story is formed. Or, more precisely, many stories are formed. Because no story is single-valued. Unlike Euclidean geometry, through any set of causally-connected events one can draw an nigh infinite number of story-lines.

    If you talk to little kids, they're constantly making up stories, even about jejune events. "I went to the store today! There were cars! The car went VROOOM!" is a grand story for a three-year-old. "I'm a dinosaur and I'm going to eat you!" is a common story told. As is "The floor is lava! We have to jump from chair to chair not to burn up!" In fact, often they can't not tell stories. They're hungrily connecting event to event, looking for patterns. Sometimes, I think we do ourselves a disservice as adults by crushing that sense of continual story-telling and making it much more formal and strait-jacketed than it needs to be.
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    Default Re: Why collaborative storytelling is a meaningless phrase

    So, one thing people should be aware of is the fact that there's a subset of people (not saying anyone in this thread) that have decided that RPGs are "about" story and that all good RPGs should be "about" story in some way, whether that's the railroad-y type of predetermined GM path, or whether that's Forge-y storygamey kind of stuff.

    And some people want nothing to do with either of those (or, in my case, recognize that they're valuable things that aren't all-encompassing, and games that *aren't* those things are still super awesome).

    THe problem then is that a number of people use expansive definitions of "story" to "prove" that all games are "about story" and thus their style of gaming is superior, without making any attempt to understand what they're denigrating, or even accepting that enjoying other styles of elfgames is totally valid and cool.

    So when you start talking about "everything being story", you run into that pushback from people that have dealt with that.

    (Plus the fact that as soon as you say "everything is story" then saying that something "is story" becomes a meaningless statement.)
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    Default Re: Why collaborative storytelling is a meaningless phrase

    Collaborative Storytelling as a term exists to differentiate games where everyone gets to contribute meaningfully to what happens from games where the DM aggressively dictates a story to the players who are supposed to follow it.

    That's it, really.
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    Default Re: Why collaborative storytelling is a meaningless phrase

    Mathematics is a good parallel.

    Everything is math, too, in exactly the same way. This is because math is just a way humans look at the universe to understand it and communicate what they see. It has little, if any, meaning independent from the things it is used to describe. That's all story is as well.

    Everything has narrative because it exists and therefore has properties that can be described. At that point, it has the elements of a story or mathematical formula, regardless if anyone ever formalizes those elements or finds the communicable information useful or coherent.

    Coming back to RPGs, what I've heard from the old guard sounds like original D&D focused much more on the dungeon grinding, where you didn't get too attached to characters because you expected most of them to never make it through from start to finish (I know plenty of people had different experience with the old ways, it just seems more common to be this way).

    Inevitably, some players became inspired by an idea for a character that did have meaning. Like a pet, they named it and became emotionally invested in the story. Suddenly it wasn't okay for this character to be so expendable.

    To me, the shift from crunchy rpG towards narrative CS is a natural evolution of the hobby. Blowing up adventurers is fun for a while, but eventually people tend to want to settle down and find a character who means more to them than that.

    And again, these are indeed sweeping generalizations. They're directed at the apparent "average" scenario, if not any particular player. Much like the Far Side comic about the average family with literally 1.5 children.

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    Default Re: Why collaborative storytelling is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by kyoryu View Post
    So, one thing people should be aware of is the fact that there's a subset of people (not saying anyone in this thread) that have decided that RPGs are "about" story and that all good RPGs should be "about" story in some way, whether that's the railroad-y type of predetermined GM path, or whether that's Forge-y storygamey kind of stuff.

    And some people want nothing to do with either of those (or, in my case, recognize that they're valuable things that aren't all-encompassing, and games that *aren't* those things are still super awesome).

    THe problem then is that a number of people use expansive definitions of "story" to "prove" that all games are "about story" and thus their style of gaming is superior, without making any attempt to understand what they're denigrating, or even accepting that enjoying other styles of elfgames is totally valid and cool.

    So when you start talking about "everything being story", you run into that pushback from people that have dealt with that.

    (Plus the fact that as soon as you say "everything is story" then saying that something "is story" becomes a meaningless statement.)
    Thank you.

    On both points.

    Making RPGs "about story" is contrary to my enjoyment of gaming, and I've seen that argument-by-definition play out so many times over the years. I don't mind one bit if other players think of their gaming in terms of story, but I flat refuse to -- why should I if it makes the games less enjoyable for me?

    It doesn't help that I've just realized this weekend that an RPG I so much wanted to love... was intentionally designed with a mechanic to incorporate "story structure" such as "try-fail cycles" (aka, "Yes, but...") directly into the core of the system, so that successful rolls sometimes pick up complications... so that if I really want to enjoy it, I'd have to game the system to get around that aspect, or just gut it out and not play the game as the designers intended.

    Why the "it's story, you're doing story, you can't avoid doing story" thing, whether it's from the "Forge-y storygamers" you're talking about... or some of the participants in this thread?

    OK, I kinda understand the older Edwardian push on that front, since "you promised me story" and "story is about exploring theme" were his bugbears... and they were largely a bunch of postmodernists who could only resort to quibbling over a bottomless spiral of obscurantist terminology. It was so important to them to make gaming "about story" that -- coincidentally or not -- they did exactly what some have been doing here, which is try to impose the broadest definition of "story" possible, and claim elements that aren't exclusive to "story" as inherently and unavoidably part of it (character, setting, etc). It went so far that Edwards at one point said that he wasn't sure simulationism even existed, and that it was probably just Game and Narrative.


    What I don't get is why it's so important to some people here.


    (And yes, once you say "everything is story", then it's meaningless to say that any one thing "is story"... because everything else is too.)
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