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  1. - Top - End - #151
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    Default Re: Why collaborative storytelling is a meaningless phrase

    I think I've figured out at least part of where our problem is: We are using the term "collaborative storytelling" in at least two ways.

    Some of the folks on this thread have been thinking of "collaborative storytelling" as a category of games (or category of activities that includes some games) which are largely based on the questions "Is the purpose and/or central mechanism of the game the production of a story?" and "Does it require contributions from two or more people to work?" If Story=Yes and Collaborative=Yes, then it's an exercise in collaborative storytelling.

    I fall into this category, because I have needed to use the term "collaborative storytelling" to distinguish between tabletop RPGs and other kinds of games when describing them to those who don't have experience with them. From their replies, I gather at least Millstone85 and PhoenixPhyre use the term the same way. Probably a lot of other folks too.

    Some other folks on this thread use "collaborative storytelling" to refer to a particular philosophy of or approach to tabletop RPGs, one which emphasizes high quality in specific (if not specified) elements of storytelling such as character arc, plot and pacing, &c, as well as requiring a level of equitability in collaboration (each person contributes approximately equally, each person's goals are equally important).

    I gather the folks who use the term this way do so to differentiate games that are high in story quality and equitable collaboration from those that are bad at those things, or that emphasize different elements of the game. It seems like at least Darth Ultron, Max_Killjoy and Koo Rehtorb are using this definition, and probably a bunch of others.

    I think this accounts for why we're getting so much malarkey and hostility around fairly basic things like the definition of "story": If one is trying to zero in on a definition of a play style and keeps getting definitions that explicitly and deliberately encompass the whole game, then those definitions will sound uselessly broad; whereas if you're trying to describe the whole game and someone is saying "but I don't play that way," then it will sound as though the person is being irrationally obstinate.

    To state clearly my perspective, which may or may not be yours: A story is an account of real or imagined events. Yes, it's a very broad description, but it does not encompass the whole of the universe. I don't think anyone is trying to say that "everything in the universe" is a good definition of story. If you think that you are seeing that definition in anybody's posts on this thread, you can rest assured that you are misunderstanding their point. Pleh comes closest to actually saying that, and even he is only saying that everything has a history that could be understood as a story if anyone bothers to understand it (please correct me if I'm wrong about this, Pleh).

    That being said, just because story is defined in a particular broad way, doesn't mean there's only one way to use it. "Storytelling" as a verb/gerund/adjective, as in the case of "collaborative storytelling game," can mean the simple act of creating or relating a story or it can mean the attempt at creating a story of quality. Collaboration can likewise mean simply working together, or it can mean working together in a fair and equitable manner. As Max_Killjoy pointed out, dictionary definitions can be so broad as to lead us away from common usage, and in this instance common usage is different depending on whether you're describing the category of game or the style of play.

    I also wonder if this split is partly responsible for Tanarii's initial contention that collaborative storytelling is a meaningless phrase. If they are looking for a definition that isolates the style of play and keep getting definitions that only describe the game, it will feel like a pretty useless descriptor.

    Ok, I'm making a lot of guesses about what folks have been trying to say here, so please correct me if I have misunderstood your intention. Or just shout out whether you're working on defining collaborative storytelling as a category of game, or whether you're trying to define it as a style of play.
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  2. - Top - End - #152
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    Default Re: Why collaborative storytelling is a meaningless phrase

    So, for me, collaborative storytelling needs two things:

    1) It needs a game that's more than mechanics and stringing together a series of unexplained fights. It doesn't have to have nifty character arcs or pacing or any of that. It doesn't have to be a good story, but if you were to write the events down it would have to read as something more than a combat log.

    2) It needs to have more than one person controlling what events happen in a way that's "meaningful". The DM does not get to dictate how the game will look to the group. It needs to involve meaningful choices from other players as well that change the game.

    Or just shout out whether you're working on defining collaborative storytelling as a category of game, or whether you're trying to define it as a style of play.
    It's a style of play. It's independent of system, you could do collaborative storytelling in Monopooly, if you really wanted to. That said, the system heavily impacts how likely that style of play is to occur. In practise you probably aren't going to see it in Monopoly. I think some RPG systems are better than others at encouraging it, but you certainly can do it in something like D&D as well, if you're so inclined.

  3. - Top - End - #153
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    Default Re: Why collaborative storytelling is a meaningless phrase

    Sorry all about getting snappy. But when someone tells you how you're thinking, it's hard not to get that way, even if you're aware they don't believe that's what they are doing.

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    It doesn't help that there's a serious conflation from one side of "things happening that a story could be told about" and "telling a story".
    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.
    Quote Originally Posted by kyoryu View Post
    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.)
    You guys are summing up my position very well. Thank you.

    Although one thing I've learned is that in addition to those who push the meaningless "every sequence of events is a story" position, there are folks that use collaborative storytelling to use mean actual collaborative storytelling. And that's fine and dandy, especially if they're not using it to make a claim like "RPGs are about collaborative storytelling". Can be would be one thing, are is a totally different and wrong thing. Unless you're using a meaningless "encompass everything" definition for storytelling.
    Last edited by Tanarii; 2018-01-01 at 12:12 PM.

  4. - Top - End - #154
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    Default Re: Why collaborative storytelling is a meaningless phrase

    I think Blackjackg and Koo Rehtorb have hit some very good points, but there is one thing I would like to add, or focus on a bit. I don't think it should be viewed as a yes/no thing, and I think it is a bit more than that. Simply a game can contain some amount of collaborative storytelling, perhaps just an incidental amount as we provide the occasional bit of flavour text or perhaps the back-and-forth between people in the author role is the point of the game. The latter would be a collaborative storytelling game, the former could be almost any type of game.

    Role-playing games fall into both (or either, depending on the system) groups. Old school dungeon crawls where not about telling a story. Questlandia (a random indie game I've heard of only once) definitely is, distributing the world building and character control decisions amongst players and it has rules for how the world is built.

    To Tanarii: I continue to respect your ability to apologize. And I don't blame you for anything more than you apologized for.

  5. - Top - End - #155
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    Default Re: Why collaborative storytelling is a meaningless phrase

    It might be easier when strictly separating the "what" and the "how". Less vitriol this way. I.e:

    Can you:
    - "Tactical Wargame" using "RPG"? Yes.
    - "Collaborative Storytelling" and "RPG"? Yes.
    - "Freestyle acting" and "RPG"? Yes.

    I think it gets interesting to see what cannot be combined.

  6. - Top - End - #156
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    Default Re: Why collaborative storytelling is a meaningless phrase

    Yeah, I think you've got my point well.

    Here's what I don't get:

    "Stop telling me what I think."
    "I didn't tell you what you think. I told you your thoughts matched a definition."
    "Your definition is meaningless."

    Let me get this straight, you're upset that this definition has somehow confined you... to an unlimited (or nearly limitless) space?

    This would be a strawman if I were attempting to show what is wrong. I am trying to show what I do not understand. Your arguments sound silly because they have not been communicated clearly.

    I believe this is why (wasn't it Pheonix Phyre?) was asking for a different definition from Max. We're looking for exactly where the breakdown is taking place.

    "But I shouldn't have to."

    Congratulations, you certainly don't have to do anything. But we're currently trying to converse with you and we are struggling to understand what you are trying to express. Refusing to do the work of elaborating your position leaves the whole discourse at an impass.

  7. - Top - End - #157
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    Default Re: Why collaborative storytelling is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    Sorry all about getting snappy. But when someone tells you how you're thinking, it's hard not to get that way, even if you're aware they don't believe that's what they are doing.
    And it actually makes it worse when the do not understand (or refuse to understand) why it's so deeply rude and insulting it is to keep insisting that they know more about what's going on in your head than you do.


    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    You guys are summing up my position very well. Thank you.

    Although one thing I've learned is that in addition to those who push the meaningless "every sequence of events is a story" position, there are folks that use collaborative storytelling to use mean actual collaborative storytelling. And that's fine and dandy, especially if they're not using it to make a claim like "RPGs are about collaborative storytelling". Can be would be one thing, are is a totally different and wrong thing. Unless you're using a meaningless "encompass everything" definition for storytelling.
    One of the sticking points is that gulf between "can be" and "are" (that is, unavoidably must be).

    I have no issue with someone saying that their gaming experience is like storytelling, or made more enjoyable by treating it like storytelling -- that gaming can be storytelling.

    The issue is when I say "I am not engaged in storytelling when playing an RPG, and treating playing like storytelling makes the game less enjoyable for me"... and someone has to respond with "No, you're storytelling no matter what you say, even if you really think you're not".
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  8. - Top - End - #158
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    Default Re: Why collaborative storytelling is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    The issue is when I say "I am not engaged in storytelling when playing an RPG, and treating playing like storytelling makes the game less enjoyable for me"... and someone has to respond with "No, you're storytelling no matter what you say, even if you really think you're not".
    You can define words any way you like, but you must at least recognize that when you define storytelling in a way that doesn't include tabletop roleplaying games-- ALL tabletop roleplaying games-- you are using a definition that disagrees not only with the dictionary definition and many of your fellow gamers, but also the designers of the games themselves.

    From the 4e Player's Handbook:
    "A roleplaying game is a storytelling game that has elements of the games of make-believe that many of us played as children."

    From the 5e Player's Handbook:
    "Together, the DM and the players create an exciting story of bold adventurers who confront deadly perils."

    From the Buffy the Vampire Slayer rulebook:
    "Okay, in truth, a roleplaying game is about shared storytelling. You get together with several friends and create a tale."

    The whole White Wolf/Onyx Path system uses the word storytelling interchangeably with roleplaying, as in the Chronicles of Darkness core book:
    "Chances are you know what a storytelling or roleplaying game is already."

    Do I need to pull out more books? Define whatever you like however you like. If it lessens your experience to think of your RPG playing as storytelling, you don't have to use that term. But surely you can recognize that all the things you do when you play RPGs fall into one common definition that people use of storytelling.
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  9. - Top - End - #159
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    Default Re: Why collaborative storytelling is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Blackjackg View Post
    You can define words any way you like, but you must at least recognize that when you define storytelling in a way that doesn't include tabletop roleplaying games-- ALL tabletop roleplaying games-- you are using a definition that disagrees not only with the dictionary definition and many of your fellow gamers, but also the designers of the games themselves.

    From the 4e Player's Handbook:
    "A roleplaying game is a storytelling game that has elements of the games of make-believe that many of us played as children."

    From the 5e Player's Handbook:
    "Together, the DM and the players create an exciting story of bold adventurers who confront deadly perils."

    From the Buffy the Vampire Slayer rulebook:
    "Okay, in truth, a roleplaying game is about shared storytelling. You get together with several friends and create a tale."

    The whole White Wolf/Onyx Path system uses the word storytelling interchangeably with roleplaying, as in the Chronicles of Darkness core book:
    "Chances are you know what a storytelling or roleplaying game is already."

    Do I need to pull out more books? Define whatever you like however you like. If it lessens your experience to think of your RPG playing as storytelling, you don't have to use that term. But surely you can recognize that all the things you do when you play RPGs fall into one common definition that people use of storytelling.
    No, the things I do when I play RPGs can be used in storytelling -- that doesn't make them storytelling, or make anything that's ever done with them automatically storytelling.

    A hammer can be one of the tools used in building a house, that doesn't make anything ever done with a hammer "building a house". Throwing hammers at a target on a tree, or using them to put together a swingset, or to chase rats, is not "building a house".
    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2018-01-01 at 04:19 PM.
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    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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  10. - Top - End - #160
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    Default Re: Why collaborative storytelling is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    No, the things I do when I play RPGs can be used in storytelling -- that doesn't make them storytelling, or make anything that's ever done with them storytelling.

    A hammer can be one of the tools used in building a house, that doesn't make anything ever done with a hammer "building a house". Throwing hammers at a target on a tree, or to put together a swingset, or to chase rats, is not "building a house".
    That analogy is not a valid argument. It is based on your definition of storytelling, which as we have established, is not the definition used by myself, by the dictionary, by a number of other people on this thread, or by the game designers I quoted above. I'm not asking you to explain your definition further; I understand it. I am telling you that my definition is different and valid, and encouraging you to accept that.
    Last edited by Blackjackg; 2018-01-01 at 04:16 PM.
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  11. - Top - End - #161
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    Default Re: Why collaborative storytelling is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Blackjackg View Post
    That analogy is not a valid argument. It is based on your definition of storytelling, which as we have established, is not the definition used by myself, by the dictionary, by a number of other people on this thread, or by the game designers I quoted above. I'm not asking you to explain your definition further; I understand it. I am telling you that my definition is different and valid, and encouraging you to accept that.
    I don't care.

    If your definition of story leads you to insist that people who aren't engaged in "storytelling" when they're playing their character in an RPG are supposedly "in fact" storytelling, then it's wrong.

    Simple as that.

    It doesn't matter if some story or other might emerge from it what's going on.

    It doesn't matter if your expansive-to-uselessness definition of "story" can be used, via conflation of "story" and "storytelling", to try to stake a claim to what we're doing, thinking, and feeling.

    Some of us are not telling a story, or engaged in crafting a story, or playing out a story, or concerned with whatever story might emerge, when we play our PC in an RPG. No ifs, ands, or buts. We're not. That's all there is to it.
    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2018-01-01 at 06:32 PM.
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    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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  12. - Top - End - #162
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    Default Re: Why collaborative storytelling is a meaningless phrase

    @ Max_Killjoy

    I'm curious, what does the phrase "untold story" mean to you?

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    Default Re: Why collaborative storytelling is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    Some of us are not telling a story, or engaged in crafting a story, or playing out a story, or concerned with whatever story might emerge, when we play our PC in an RPG. No ifs, ands, or buts. We're not. That's all there is to it.
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  14. - Top - End - #164
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    Default Re: Why collaborative storytelling is a meaningless phrase

    And we circle back around to the main point. Any definition of story or storytelling that is so broad that it says everything you do in an RPG, that the entire point of playing an RPG, must be part of storytelling, is effectively meaningless.

    Just as any definition of it that says my living my life, or existing, is story or storytelling, must be meaningless.

    If it's so broad it's universally applicable, you're using it in a way that doesn't actually define or communicate anything.

    Quote Originally Posted by Florian View Post
    It might be easier when strictly separating the "what" and the "how". Less vitriol this way. I.e:

    Can you:
    - "Tactical Wargame" using "RPG"? Yes.
    - "Collaborative Storytelling" and "RPG"? Yes.
    - "Freestyle acting" and "RPG"? Yes.
    More to the point of this thread, another thing you can do:
    - "decide what my character does in the fantasy environment" using "RPG"

    There's a couple more there obviously.

    I think it gets interesting to see what cannot be combined.
    Of the things you listed, and addition I made, I think you could combine a piece of all if you wanted to. Not necessarily at the same time.

  15. - Top - End - #165
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    Default Re: Why collaborative storytelling is a meaningless phrase

    For example, the people talking about - with a straight face - the idea of driving as storytelling.

    Now such an expansive definition of storytelling isn't necessarily "useless" or even false, however, if you're arguing that all human activity is, in some way, storytelling, that's more a statement about the human condition than it is about the specific activities you're talking about.
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    Default Re: Why collaborative storytelling is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Pleh View Post
    Yeah, I think you've got my point well.

    Here's what I don't get:

    "Stop telling me what I think."
    "I didn't tell you what you think. I told you your thoughts matched a definition."
    "Your definition is meaningless."

    Let me get this straight, you're upset that this definition has somehow confined you... to an unlimited (or nearly limitless) space?
    No, your definition is meaningless because it doesn't convey any meaning. It makes no distinctions. It doesn't distinguish anything from anything else. If everything is "a story", then saying that something "is a story" doesn't tell us anything, it conveys no meaning, it fails to serve the purpose of communicating a distinct idea / concept.

    It's aggravating because it looks for all the world like an attempt to invalidate what people are saying about their own experiences related to one word (storytelling, in RPG play) by using the broadest possible definition of a related word (story) -- it looks for all the world like some of us said "We're not storytelling, we're not 'doing story', when we're playing our PCs in an RPG", and the response was an immediate effort to find a broad enough definition of story to "prove" that what we're doing is "in fact" story, no matter what we think or what that means for our enjoyment of the game... until a definition so broad that it includes everything was introduced.

    Hell, some of the posters even claimed that just being alive at all is "doing story" and proceeded to tell us how we think and how we experience the world, as if they have any effing clue in that regard.


    Why is it so important to "prove" that anyone engaged in playing an RPG is "doing story"?

    If that's not how some of us experience the world, let alone the act of playing a PC in an RPG in particular, why is it so important to some of you to "prove us wrong" about that?


    Quote Originally Posted by Pleh View Post
    This would be a strawman if I were attempting to show what is wrong. I am trying to show what I do not understand. Your arguments sound silly because they have not been communicated clearly.

    I believe this is why (wasn't it Pheonix Phyre?) was asking for a different definition from Max. We're looking for exactly where the breakdown is taking place.

    "But I shouldn't have to."

    Congratulations, you certainly don't have to do anything. But we're currently trying to converse with you and we are struggling to understand what you are trying to express. Refusing to do the work of elaborating your position leaves the whole discourse at an impass.
    I've elaborated my position plenty.

    I even laid out elements beyond "any sequence of events" that are required for something to be a story (IMO, I guess), and the only response that got was "you're wrong".

    E: Given the same set of events, different people very often tell different stories. There's a movie playing with this that's so famous that it lends its name to it -- Rashomon. This would seem to indicate that a story is not a sequence of events, but rather about a sequence of events. And thus that a story is more than just a set of events.
    Last edited by Max_Killjoy; 2018-01-01 at 10:04 PM.
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    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

    Though I really think this is mostly an argument about definitions, as I've seen, in this thread, about five different definitions of "collaborative storytelling." And everybody seems to think that theirs is universal and generally understood.

    I don't think there'd be nearly as much actual contention.

    That's why I like actually getting down to *what you do* at the table in most cases.

    There's a whole bunch of terms in RPGs like that, sadly.
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    Default Re: Why collaborative storytelling is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by kyoryu View Post
    Though I really think this is mostly an argument about definitions, as I've seen, in this thread, about five different definitions of "collaborative storytelling." And everybody seems to think that theirs is universal and generally understood.

    I don't think there'd be nearly as much actual contention.

    That's why I like actually getting down to *what you do* at the table in most cases.

    There's a whole bunch of terms in RPGs like that, sadly.
    We've had some very enlightening discussions about the word "narrative" that I've tried to keep in mind, and thus us more specific terms or include short explanations.
    It is one thing to suspend your disbelief. It is another thing entirely to hang it by the neck until dead.

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    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
    We've had some very enlightening discussions about the word "narrative" that I've tried to keep in mind, and thus us more specific terms or include short explanations.
    Thanks, man.

    I don't always agree with you, but I do find you're usually willing to listen to other people, even the ones that disagree with you.
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    Default Re: Why collaborative storytelling is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Max_Killjoy View Post
    Why is it so important to "prove" that anyone engaged in playing an RPG is "doing story"?
    I'm having trouble understanding what bothers you so much about the idea that it is.

    Again, your language seems to be based around the complaint about being pigeonholed with a definition that is too broad to have meaning. So you're being confined to a limitless space. Exactly what is your complaint in that? You're being netted in a net so large you might as well not even be in a net to begin with. So what are you complaining about? How are you having anything forced on you if the thing being allegedly forced on you explicitly has no effectiveness on anything you say, think, or do?

    I wasn't asking for rigorous proof of anything. I'm trying to communicate that so far your assertions up to this point seem incoherent, like you're jumping to emotional conclusions before thinking the whole scenario through.

    You get stuck on the semantics: "Everything is Story" vs "Everything can have a story." I'm a big defender of meaningful semantics, but in this case I really doubt that there even is one between these two phrases. Sure, in exact, literal interpretation, they mean very different things, but in idiomatic use of our language, they often are simply synonymous.

    Both statements are doing nothing more than observing the "Nature of Story" as opposed to the "Nature of Everything." Again, Story is like Mathematics in that it is a means by which humans Describe things (to be distinguished from Prescribing things), which you are correct in pointing out that this will be dependent on perspective. Everything that exists has information about it that can be described through Story or Math. You could easily say, "Everything is Math" and you'd find quite a few people who would understand what you were saying without having to nitpick at the semantics (a few people might actually believe the metaphysical implications of all of existence being some relationship between different sets of numbers).

    I guess what I think I'm saying is, "You're technically right, but not meaningfully right. You're getting worked up over irrelevant minutia."

    A large part of the reason for this is that, just like Mathematics, there are several different levels to Story. Stories can be as simple as relating a sequence of events (through the storyteller's unique perspective, if pedantry must needs be), but often in RPGs we use a much more focused form of storytelling, much in the same way as a chemist uses a different set of mathematical formulas than an economist does.

    Back to the application specifically into RPGs: when roleplaying a character resolving conflict presented by a scenario, we typically solve these problems with either Game solutions or Story solutions. My favorite core example is the Locked Door scenario. Do you bypass the door through mechanical implementation of your character's skill (smashing or lockpicking), or do you simply knock on the door to elicit from the DM more information about the Story surrounding the door? This can make new Mechanical Game solutions available (e.g. diplomancing the person on the other side into opening the door), lose other Game solutions (stealth greatly loses viability), and at least provides the scenario with greater information (maybe no one was on the other side to begin with).

    Now, I don't really employ much concept of Story when playing the Munchkin card game, even though I've got some great emergent stories from some of the games I've played. Those games are pretty much all about burning the Story elements of RPGs to just make hammy, tactical decisions to maximize profit.

    RPGs can be played the same way and there's nothing wrong with them that do. But that doesn't make "collaborative storytelling" meaningless.

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    Default Re: Why collaborative storytelling is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Pleh View Post
    Back to the application specifically into RPGs: when roleplaying a character resolving conflict presented by a scenario, we typically solve these problems with either Game solutions or Story solutions. My favorite core example is the Locked Door scenario. Do you bypass the door through mechanical implementation of your character's skill (smashing or lockpicking), or do you simply knock on the door to elicit from the DM more information about the Story surrounding the door? This can make new Mechanical Game solutions available (e.g. diplomancing the person on the other side into opening the door), lose other Game solutions (stealth greatly loses viability), and at least provides the scenario with greater information (maybe no one was on the other side to begin with).
    I'm confused. How is knocking on a door different to smashing it down (other than the obvious result)? Both are an action taken by the character and both are interacting with the environment in a way that changes the reaction of people who hear it. Did you mean that one requires a dice roll and has an uncertain outcome whereas the other has a fixed outcome because someone knows what will happen? Or do you mean that one doesn't have 'knock on door' as a listed character skill - in which case why not add it to the character sheet?

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    Default Re: Why collaborative storytelling is a meaningless phrase

    Well, in RPGs, you're either RPing or Gaming. You're either rolling dice or interacting with the environment in character. One of these is pure mechanical, the other is pure story.

    You don't have more or less character skill at knocking on a door, but you could have it for knocking the door down

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    Default Re: Why collaborative storytelling is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Pleh View Post
    You don't have more or less character skill at knocking on a door, but you could have it for knocking the door down
    Untrue, sir. It is entirely plausible to have a character with more skill at knocking on doors.

    In the Stulian Empire there are many different ways to knock on a door, all of which convey subtle information on the person's social rank and purpose in seeking entry. Knocking on this door in an incorrect manner will sour the man you wish to speak with's mood and make it much harder to gain needed concessions from him. Roll Etiquette.

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    Default Re: Why collaborative storytelling is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Pleh View Post
    Well, in RPGs, you're either RPing or Gaming. You're either rolling dice or interacting with the environment in character. One of these is pure mechanical, the other is pure story.

    You don't have more or less character skill at knocking on a door, but you could have it for knocking the door down
    I personally don't see those two as dichotomous. The mechanical elements are merely the interface between the player and the fiction. It's how we translate from our world to the game world. You can do both at the same time (and usually do).

    That's why I don't feel that storytelling and roleplaying are mutually exclusive. I know I'm constantly doing both--every decision made for a character involves both "what would this character do" and "would this decision enhance the story being told, or is it boring?" It's why I'll often (as DM) have characters make substantially unoptimal decisions. A furious charge rather than a careful withdrawal.

    The narrative side also influences what characters get built. As a DM, I'm not going to build characters that are perfectly paranoid (a la the stereotypes of 3e wizards)--5D chess bores me (and my players). As a player, I'm not going to choose to build an incompetent, cowardly shopkeeper in a D&D game--it's bad for the narrative and the fun of the game.

    For me, "story" elements play the largest role on what characters do at the large scale--what their goals are, what their broad-brush characteristics are, etc. Characters I make, whether as a player or as a DM, are going to have goals, plans, and character traits that contribute to telling a fun story/creating fun scenes. If my players want to fight dragons (and dragons plausibly exist in the setting), I'm going to make sure they get some dragons to fight. If they'd rather talk down the dragons and negotiate with them, I'm going to make sure at least some of those dragons are amenable to such negotiation. It's why I won't play a coward who just wants to go home and has to be dragged kicking and screaming (or bribed) to come along. That works in single-author fiction (the Hobbit), but is annoying at the game table.

    The "roleplaying" elements are strongest when dealing with specifics--how would this character (based on established traits) react to specific situation X? But even then, there's usually a range of actions/reactions that would be "in character." Picking between that set is done based on story/narrative considerations.

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    This is modified by the knowledge that real people act "out of perceived character" quite a lot. One of the most startling moments for me was realizing that my freshman Calc II professor (a gnomish man that was the spitting image of Fidel Castro, but shorter), who seemed to be the type that would read complex philosophical works or solve math problems in his spare time, was an avid video gamer. Same with one of my colleagues (a rather refined older gentleman)--he plays Call of Duty and other FPSs. This is something that seems "out of character," but is really an indication that the true character has been obscured or concealed or is broader/more nuanced than previously thought.
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    Default Re: Why collaborative storytelling is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Koo Rehtorb View Post
    Untrue, sir. It is entirely plausible to have a character with more skill at knocking on doors.

    In the Stulian Empire there are many different ways to knock on a door, all of which convey subtle information on the person's social rank and purpose in seeking entry. Knocking on this door in an incorrect manner will sour the man you wish to speak with's mood and make it much harder to gain needed concessions from him. Roll Etiquette.
    Ok, but you created more mechanical game by extrapolating with story elements.

    You didn't bypass story with game. You created more story that justified the addition of more game material.

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    Default Re: Why collaborative storytelling is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Pleh View Post
    I'm having trouble understanding what bothers you so much about the idea that it is.
    Like Max_Killjoy, I'm having trouble understanding why you feel the need to try and prove everything is story, especially when that's a meaningless and pointless definition, since it fails to distinguish anything.

    The rest of your post seems to be an attempt to conflate "everything is a story" with "everything can be turned into a story by people", which aren't even remotely the same statement. Why do you feel the need to conflate those two concepts? One that is inaccurate and meaningless, with one that is an accurate statement about people's ability to create stories?


    Quote Originally Posted by Pleh View Post
    Well, in RPGs, you're either RPing or Gaming. You're either rolling dice or interacting with the environment in character. One of these is pure mechanical, the other is pure story.
    Interacting with the environment in character is not required to be story and any more than living life is.

    You can do it in a way that is pure story, by making decisions for the character based on what will result in the best story. Or you can do it by making decisions as if you were that character with that personality in that environment, which has nothing to do with story and is instead 'method acting' roleplaying.

    Or you can do PhoenixPhyre just said he does, and do both,
    Last edited by Tanarii; 2018-01-02 at 11:03 AM.

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    Default Re: Why collaborative storytelling is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    Like Max_Killjoy, I'm having trouble understanding why you feel the need to try and prove everything is story, especially when that's a meaningless and pointless definition, since it fails to distinguish anything.
    Probably the same reason you feel the need to push against that with your position. People* like to have there opinions recognized and, where possible**, vindicated. Especially considering the vitriol in the beginning of the thread and the aggressive tone which still lingers in some posts which tends to make people dig into their positions even more. I mean that is why I am here despite trying to stay away despite the negative atmosphere in this thread. I think with a polite "agree to disagree" this thread might have been over on page 2 or 3. Actually, considering this is Giant in the Playground, it could have just been more good natured pedantic arguing.

    Well I already gave my opinions on the topic itself, so I will end here.

    * Which is not to say any particular person, I am commenting only on a general trend I have observed in my life and people vary.
    ** Not that it being impossible stops some people from waving around a random thought they had like it already has been proven.

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    Default Re: Why collaborative storytelling is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Tanarii View Post
    The rest of your post seems to be an attempt to conflate "everything is a story" with "everything can be turned into a story by people", which aren't even remotely the same statement. Why do you feel the need to conflate those two concepts? One that is inaccurate and meaningless, with one that is an accurate statement about people's ability to create stories?
    As far as I can tell, the first is used as shorthand for the second. I personally think that "everything has a story" makes more sense, but I can't control the language people use.

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    Default Re: Why collaborative storytelling is a meaningless phrase

    Quote Originally Posted by Cluedrew View Post
    Probably the same reason you feel the need to push against that with your position.
    The entire purpose of this thread is a defense against people trying to use "story" to be everything and anything. Pushing back is normal when pushed.

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    Default Re: Why collaborative storytelling is a meaningless phrase

    Yes, it just seems to be part of human nature. And that was my point actually.

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