Scenes and scene-framing.

edited January 2010 in Story Games
4b. The concept of scenes and scene-framing is pervasive throughout contemporary indie gaming. Discuss. (45 minutes)
Strikes me that 'scene-structure' permeates modern design so thoroughly as to be near-invisible/going-without-comment. I'm struggling to think of a recent game that doesn't use the technique.

Is it like the wheel: It does with speed and efficiently what we ask of it so no further inventions are required? Will the hover-disc (to continue the metaphor) ever be practical?

Comments

  • For a weak enough definition of "framing", this is probably true. In some games, framing the scene is merely identifying the setting. In others it carries more weight, such as deciding what the scene is about.
    Posted By: PotemkinIs it like the wheel: It does with speed and efficiently what we ask of it so no further inventions are required? Will the hover-disc (to continue the metaphor) ever be practical?
    In the game that I'm designing, I use the "chapter" as the basic unit of action. In literature, you generally have multiple scenes within a chapter, transitioning to a new scene with either the passage of time or a change of location. It's common in writing for a narrative thread to span scenes. I think the scene-oriented thinking in a lot of games comes from a focus on TV and film story structures. In TV and film, changing scenes is a big deal (new camera setup, new set, etc.) so they need every scene to deliver a certain impact. Switching scenes isn't as big a deal when it's just people sitting around a table talking, so I don't think gaming needs to follow the same rules as TV and film. I don't think my perspective is a huge change from a scene-oriented one (a single scene can easily span an entire chapter, after all) but I did consciously move away from talking about scenes because I found that the word "scene" had a lot of connotations in the game design space that it doesn't necessarily have in the fiction writing space.
  • This is a great question! And a wonderful assumption to revisit.

    I think you could get some insight out of picking apart what different people mean by scene and framing, too.
  • I thought it was going out of fashion. Apocalypse World doesn't use scene framing; nor does Steal Away Jordan; nor does Lady Blackbird. I can think of games that do use it, but they're in the minority of ones I've played recently.

    I'm quite glad. I find it all quite restrictive.

    Graham
  • Is it fair to flip this a little and ask what's wrong with scene framing?
  • Posted By: GrahamApocalypse World doesn't use scene framing; nor does Steal Away Jordan; nor does Lady Blackbird.
    I think I'm a little confused on scene framing, then. Of these three, I've only played Lady Blackbird, but I would have described it as using scene framing.

    "Okay, back to Kale and Naomi .. you come around the corner toward the engine room, but there's a giant bad-ass clockwork robot guard, like ED-209 from Robocop, but all brass and steam valves. It's standing right in front of the door, and you skid into its view..."

    Or is that NOT scene framing?
  • Posted By: Robert BohlIs it fair to flip this a little and ask what's wrong with scene framing?
    I don't think Potemkin's saying there's anything wrong with scene-framing, or at least that's not how I interpreted it when he discussed it over on #playnow. It's more wondering if scene-framing has become so ubiquitous within the indie- and story-gaming scene that it doesn't even need to be explicated anymore.

    I know that while reading the freebie version of Carry there was a bit where he mentions scene-framing and then says in a footnote that he'll expand more on what that means in the for-pay version, but I'm so familiar with the concept now that I don't need to have it explained to me. Though once that was definitely the case.
  • Posted By: BWAI think I'm a little confused on scene framing, then. Of these three, I've only played Lady Blackbird, but I would have described it as using scene framing.

    "Okay, back to Kale and Naomi .. you come around the corner toward the engine room, but there's a giant bad-ass clockwork robot guard, like ED-209 from Robocop, but all brass and steam valves. It's standing right in front of the door, and you skid into its view..."

    Or is that NOT scene framing?
    Yes, I think that's scene-framing, but I don't think you have to play Lady Blackbird like that.

    Naomi: "Right, so we go around the corner into the engine room."
    GM: "There's a giant bad-ass clockwork robot guard there."
    Naomi: "Oh, that's really cool. Clockwork. Nice."

    Graham
  • Scene framing is only vaguely explored in indie games so far. I mean, we use it as a blanket term for a whole host of techniques that are pretty different from each other. I was just thinking about this the other day and was going to write about it.

    Sometimes:

    1) One person throws out a "hard" framing, often in the form of a "bang," like: "Okay, you're in the water surrounded by sharks and you only have one air tank between you and your best friend. Go!"

    2) Sometimes someone floats a "soft" framing that gets further developed by the group, like: "Okay, what if we're underwater or something?" "Wait, what about outer space!" "No, I like underwater better." "Can there be sharks?" "Oh yes, definitely sharks. And maybe there's a limited supply of air in our tanks." "Oh man, what if there's only one tank between two people." "Sweet."

    3) Sometimes one person asks another person (or two) what they want to have happen, with specific constraints, like: "Okay, so we're going to have an interlude scene between you and your best friend. Where does it take place?" "Hmm, we should be in some kind of crisis together, where we have to choose between selfishness and our relationship." "What about underwater, surrounded by sharks, with only one air tank?" "Done."

    4) Sometimes you start with a "soft" framing and keep driving it, through play, until it gets to a "hard" crisis moment, like: "Okay, what if we're underwater, swimming through the wreck of an old ship." [Play for a while] "Sharks! Holy crap! I struggle to get out of the ship and swim to the surface... [Play some more] "Okay, well, if I've lost my air tank to the sharks, then we only have one tank between the two of us!"

    In all of these examples, the same contents happen, narratively, as far as the plot is concerned, but the way the group arrives at those places is very different and thus feels and means significantly different things during play. And we haven't really explored that very much. Also, there seem to be significant variation in approaching scene framing from an in-character or in-fiction perspective vs. an OOC, structuralist perspective, as in "we need a scene about their relationship" rather than "me and Mack are surrounded by sharks."

    Additionally, there are all types of scenes that don't necessarily go "hard," arriving at a dramatic crisis. Sure, they usually still have an important moment in them that gives the scene meaning, but sometimes you don't even know what that moment is except in retrospect, after playing out later scenes. These have largely been explored either informally, outside of the concrete guidelines for framing scenes, based on the players narrative instincts, or through things like "interludes" or the "players turn" in Mouse Guard, which, like "scene framing" are blanket concepts that provide a minimal amount of structure, allowing players to be exploratory in play but not really examining the kinds of scene framing that are possible in crisis-free situations.

    All that to say: there's a lot of meat there in scene framing and we have only really begun to explore it in a formal or mechanical way. Previously, most of this stuff was very implicit or house-ruled or freeformed by local groups.

    If you want something besides scene framing, or superior to scene framing, knock yourself out.
  • That's totally scene framing Brian.

    All games use scene framing. It's a task, not a technique. "You're in a 10 by 10 corridor that stretches out at least 60 feet, to the limits of your torchlight." That's scene framing.

    I think this thread is more about aggressive scene framing. Instead of playing out every moment, you use aggressive scene framing to elide time and place to go directly to something interesting. "A few hours pass. It's the third watch. Your head is beginning to nod as you struggle to fend off sleep, when you hear..."

    Some games encode aggressive scene framing as rules rather than technique. PTA is an excellent example. There are many ways to do it, depending on the purpose of the game.
  • Potemkin, I think scene structure permeates roleplaying so thoroughly as to be near invisible. You don't have to be conscious of dividing your play up into scenes to frame a scene, you just have to talk about when and where the next thing happens. It happens naturally, all the time. There's value in calling attention to it as a formal construct (usually to add mindfulness or purpose to the act), but it's not like the act itself is really all that new.

    So Brian's example? Scene framing. Graham's "counter" example? Also scene framing.

    Is there something in here I'm missing?
  • Posted By: Robert BohlIs it fair to flip this a little and ask what's wrong with scene framing?
    I don't think that there's anything wrong with scene framing (where I'm using it to mean simply the technique of having non-continuous time or location in a story, such as by "cutting" to the destination on a long boring journey, or doing "three hours later..."). It does, however, encourage certain ways of thinking about how to interact with a story -- calling out scene boundaries as important divisions encourages thinking in a particular way about those boundaries and what happens between them. For example, people often get scene framing very tied up with stake setting and conflict resolution even though they don't necessarily have to have anything to do with each other. For some games, having exactly one conflict per scene (no more, no less) is important, and dictates the story pace of the games. In some games people assume that you ought to have exactly one conflict per scene, and there are discussions about whether you can or should have non-conflict scenes. If the game has mechanical emphasis on scene boundaries (such as by having the spotlight shift away from a particular character at each one) then that also impacts what happens in the scene (e.g. "I'd better do something with big impact in every scene I get!"), which influences the kind of story that gets told. Being "scene oriented" isn't god or bad on its own, but it does have consequences, which can be good or bad for a particular kind of play experience.
  • Thanks for the responses, all.

    I guess I can't think of ANY game where I don't frame scenes to some degree (from the oldest school to the newest). Not that that means it isn't a great topic for discussion.
  • I find Jonathan's examples really useful. And, yeah, I think they're all scene framing, and the useful thing is to be aware of it and how to make it awesome in whatever definition of awesome you have in mind for your game.
  • Posted By: Sam HIt's more wondering if scene-framing has become so ubiquitous within the indie- and story-gaming scene that it doesn't even need to be explicated anymore.
    There're a lot of people who agree with you. I think it's only been around for between a decade or two (White Wolf 1st editions are the first place I remember hearing about scenes in RPGs), and it's worth exploring some more.

    That said, someone wants to do without it, I'm not going to hold my nose at the game, either.
  • Jonathan: Agreed. i love playing around not only with hard / soft framing (in your words), but also aggressive and permissive (which is similar, but different...?) and just what is to be included and what is to be explicitly not stated.

    Graham: Restriction: The Story Games Equivalent To Bondage; It's Not For Everybody.

    Mike Potemkin: please correct me if i'm wrong, but is your Chaptering of the game sequence not so much about what's happening around the characters, but what's relevant to the characters in regards to their ongoing conflicts and their trajectories and so on? So that the conversation between your protagonist and mine, in which you hash out the master plan of the jewel thief and i vocally attempt to come to grips with the fact that it's my beloved who is our most obvious suspect, can take place in the public library stacks and on the street and in the diner and then again on the street until the chapter ends with us bidding goodnight (or a cliffhanger with a car nearly hitting us) with no certainty as to when during the conversation we switched locations?

    Or is scene framing so integral (as Thor seems to say) that it provides the necessary environment in which play can occur; that all physical description is scene framing and without it we can't hope to be on the same page with our fellow players?
  • As an aside, please don't assume that I have anything against scenes or framing in games. I was just highlighting the specific use of the 'Scene' as an overt and oft-explained gameplay mechanic without fear or favour.

    Of course there are going to be scenes in some fashion, as all story-games are narratives and segments of narratives are commonly described as scenes, regardless of media. However if you said "Scene" to a player in the seventies you'd get a different response than from today - the implicit meaning has altered.
  • Posted By: jackson teguOr is scene framing so integral (as Thor seems to say) that it provides the necessary environment in which play can occur; that all physical description is scene framing and without it we can't hope to be on the same page with our fellow players?
    Sounds right to me.

    Even the most basic dungeon crawl requires a GM to explain to the players what their characters are experiencing.
  • Posted By: BWAEven the most basic dungeon crawl requires a GM to explain to the players what their characters are experiencing.
    But surely that's not the same thing as Scene-framing as a mechanical technique?
  • Posted By: PotemkinBut surely that's not the same thing as Scene-framing as a mechanical technique?
    The rules in D&D tell the DM to describe the scene for the players - tell them where their characters are, what they see, and so on. Which I would define as scene framing.

    Now, that's a RULE, but it's not a MECHANIC.

    What do you mean by a "mechanical technique"? You mean, like, the rules say the GM spends a story token to do this (or whatever)? Or are you talking more about framing discreet "scenes", with a start and a finish, and using the "hard" scene framing techniques mentioned above?

    (I'm not trying to be internet-y about this. I think I'm just missing your point. Plus I've never played Primetime Adventures, which is probably one of the ur-texts for this kind of thing.)
  • Posted By: BWA
    Now, that's a RULE, but it's not a MECHANIC.

    What do you mean by a "mechanical technique"? You mean, like, the rules say the GM spends a story token to do this (or whatever)? Or are you talking more about framing discreet "scenes", with a start and a finish, and using the "hard" scene framing techniques mentioned above?

    (I'm not trying to be internet-y about this. I think I'm just missing your point. Plus I've never played Primetime Adventures, which is probably one of the ur-texts for this kind of thing.)
    Ah, sorry. Rules are mechanics in my book - it's all synonymous with 'System' (as opposed to 'Setting'). So a 'mechanical technique' is something specifically highlighted by the game's designer to happen in play (so, a rule. But 'rule' always sounds prohibitive to me..). D&D has scenes but it doesn't have Scenes in a PTA (etc) way.

    Again, not saying they're a bad thing.
  • Posted By: BWAOr are you talking more about framing discreet "scenes", with a start and a finish
    Aren't discrete scenes required in order for something to be called "scene framing"? Scene framing is not just another word for description, it's a special kind of description -- you start talking about a new place or time or group of characters, but in order to do that you need to "frame" the scene so that everyone knows what is going on. This is in contrast to the old style of continuous narration of people walking down dungeon corridors, etc., which would be more like a film done with one continuous camera shot.
  • I think Dan's totally right. Scene framing is a distinct way of thinking about the narrative of a game as explicitly being broken up into distinct pieces, like:

    [scene 1][scene 2][scene 3][flashback][scene 4][interlude][scene 5]

    Whereas, another way of looking at it might be a continuous narrative, where the GM is constantly asking, explicitly or implicitly, "What are you doing?" And the main issue there is which parts to NOT play out, rather than which things to have scenes about. So one of the main GM tasks in this style is to excise boring / unnecessary portions by fading to black or jump cutting between locations or in time. Like:

    stuff happens // more stuff happens and then // some // other stuff happens... and then you decide to end for the night

    When the GM does a lot of cutting or excising, you get something that is something like scene framing and, at least as I suspect, scene framing in roleplaying likely arrived from very proactive GMs who did a lot of excising and jump cutting for dramatic effect, to help create a "story" out of the events of play.

    So, while I agree with Thor that some kind of shaping of the narrative happens in any game in which you don't have a narrative that constantly unfolds without cuts (and I'm not sure if any games actually do that, though I bet some larps / jeep stuff unfolds in real time), I don't think that "scene framing" as a concept is synonymous with "somebody has to describe what's happening." It's more specific than that.
  • Posted By: jaywalt...a narrative that constantly unfolds without cuts (and I'm not sure if any games actually do that...
    Rectifying that as we speak(!).
  • I'm just expressing the term as it was defined when the idea was discussed and codified at the Forge. Back then it was understood that all games have scene framing as a task. Even games that are mostly continuous have elements of this, such as when a journey is described in a sentence or two, or a night passes and the action skips ahead.
  • edited January 2010
    Ah, Forge Codification strikes again.

    It's not that all games have scenes, it's that all narratives have scenes. I demand a difference between scenes (as causal narrative) and Scenes (as a specific game-mechanic) be recognised, Ron Edwards or no!
  • edited January 2010
    These do seem like useful distinctions to make, I guess, but it definitely seems like "points on a continuum", rather than "This one thing over there, and this other thing over here".

    So maybe the difference between Scenes and scenes is not so clear to me.
  • Thor, what's a task? Job? Responsibility? Not a rule or mechanic, just something that has to be done?
  • Ken, yes.

    Mike, it's not an attempt at codification but a recognition of where these ideas come from. The alternative is to wind up with 10 different people who have 10 different ideas of what the term means. There are still many people who think that the "system" in "system matters" means rules.
  • edited January 2010
    I don't really think there's a difference between Scenes (big S) and scenes (little s). All stories can be divided up into scenes retroactively. For example, even in old school D&D you can look at the story told, post play, and say, "That part where we fought the kobolds was one scene, and that other part where we traversed the swamp was another scene." The real distinction at issue is games where the players consciously divide the action up into discreet scenes as the game unfolds, namely, through scene-framing.

    Scene-framing is a technique, not a natural phenomena. In D&D, and many other games, the players moved through the story without break. Even aggressive jump-cuts simply fast-forwarded the action. These jump-cuts were not organizational tools. Scene-framing, on the other hand, is used to organize the story into narratively meaningful sub-parts. The players in a game employing scene-framing think about story structure differently. The story told becomes about the sum of its parts more than one continuous narrative.

    As stated in previous posts, scene-framing can be implemented in a multitude of specific ways (different requirements for description, conflicts, stakes, etc.). I also personally believe that scene-framing is about starting (and possibly stopping) a scene, but not about defining the specific content of a scene (which should be left for actual play). Whether a game uses scene-framing is a separate issue from how a particular game implements scene-framing.

    Finally, some have argued that all games use scene-framing. While I agree that even D&D encouraged GMs to "set the scene," I don't think that calling this "scene-framing" is useful. The advice in D&D, and other similar games, is really talking about something else. Describing what's in front of the player-characters is not the same thing as recognizing that the overall story will consist of discreet units. Instead, D&D was describing a basic function of all roleplaying games: the need to create a concrete shared imagined space.

    Where things get a bit confusing is in certain "transition games" that call on the GM to do things like flashbacks and jump-cuts from time to time. These games hint at the beginnings of what we now call scene-framing, but didn't really use scenes as a unit of organization during play.
  • Posted By: Tim C KoppangWhile I agree that even D&D encouraged GMs to "set the scene," I don't think that calling this "scene-framing" is useful.
    Why would it be, it's only what "framing the scene" means to everyone else in the world of movies, film, radio and books?

    There is not an eye-rolling smiley that exists that is large enough and eye-rolly enough to express my feelings about this. Not even the one with the eye rolling smiley barfing an endless stream of other eye rolling smileys.
  • Let's put it in order, for clarity:

    - "Scene Framing": it exist in every role-playing game, because it exist in every narration: a game can't start without someone saying where the characters are.

    - "Aggressive scene framing": a technique used to "cut to action" leaving aside the "boring stuff", used in "story now" games but not only there. Defined in Sorcerer, I think (it's the first game where I have seen it explained), but I am not sure it wasn't defined before in other games.

    - Games with a scene structure: games that have rules based on the division of play into concrete "scenes" with a start and an ending. One example of is this kind of game is Primetime Adventures. Examples of games without this structure: Sorcerer, Dogs in the Vineyard.

    - "Scene framing authority": Who has the authority/responsibility to frame a scene? In many games is the GM, but other games have explicit rules about who can/must frame a scene.

    - Scene framing fixed formats and limitation: some games have specific rules about the framing of scenes. For example, in PTA the producer has to frame scenes that has a precise location and agenda chosen by a player. In Spione, the player of a principal who isn't already in a scene must frame a new scene for that character.

    Now, these are very, very different things: talking about all these things together as they are the same is causing a lot of confusion.

    The opening post talked about the third one, the scene structure format. If so, I simply don't see the same situation: I don't see "scene structure" dominating so much current indie game design. If we don't count GM-full games (where a scene structure is, I think, inevitable, at least to mark every player turn start and ending), they are still the minority.
  • Posted By: JDCorleyWhy would it be, it's only what "framing the scene" means to everyone else in the world of movies, film, radio and books? [snip]
    The sarcasm is not appreciated. You've picked out one sentence from my entire post and added nothing constructive. I'm willing to discuss, but what do you hope to accomplish with a comment like the one you posted?

    We are talking about a very specific technique in roleplaying. The sentence of mine that you quote even acknowledges that "setting the scene" has a broader meaning in the world at large. But that's not what I was talking about. I'm trying to draw a useful distinction in the context of roleplaying.
  • edited January 2010
    Posted By: Moreno R.- Games with a scene structure: games that have rules based on the division of play into concrete "scenes" with a start and an ending. One example of is this kind of game is Primetime Adventures. Examples of games without this structure: Sorcerer, Dogs in the Vineyard.
    Posted By: Moreno R.The opening post talked about the third one, the scene structure format.
    That's not how I read it.

    To expand a bit, I think the reality is somewhere between "all fiction has scenes!" and "this is about mechanically reinforced aggressive scene framing!". There's a difference between having scenes and emphasizing that something has scenes. Poetry emphasizes the importance of things like word order. That doesn't mean that prose doesn't have word order (it would be incomprehensible if it didn't), but it isn't highlighted the same way it is in poetry. I think that paying attention to "scenes" is emphasized in many indie games, especially those games that center mechanics around it. This has consequence for the kind of stories that get told, in that it tends to push toward the kind of stories that have sharply delineated scenes, usually involving one important thing happening per scene.
  • Posted By: Tim C KoppangIn D&D, and many other games, the players moved through the story without break. Even aggressive jump-cuts simply fast-forwarded the action.
    Maybe here's some of the contentiousness. We're talking about "techniques" for playing RPGs as if there were concrete mechanics or rules.

    But when you say "D&D doesn't have this thing", that doesn't necessarily apply to everyone's games. When I play D&D, I definitely frame scenes harder than the way you describe.

    And that's not because I'm all about the story games mojo, it's just how I always played D&D, you know?
  • Posted By: BWAPosted By: Tim C KoppangIn D&D, and many other games, the players moved through the story without break. Even aggressive jump-cuts simply fast-forwarded the action.
    Maybe here's some of the contentiousness. We're talking about "techniques" for playing RPGs as if there were concrete mechanics or rules.

    But when you say "D&D doesn't have this thing", that doesn't necessarily apply to everyone's games. When I play D&D, I definitely frame scenes harder than the way you describe.

    And that's not because I'm all about the story games mojo, it's just how I always played D&D, you know?

    Yeah, I agree with Brian. Scene framing as a technique is something that everyone does to some degree or another.

    We definitely found natural stop points for our old D&D games for time to order pizza or stop until next week. Scene framing hasn't been discovered recently, it was named and put forward as a technique. Naming it and giving space to think about it, both in online discussions and in games that use it in a more direct sense has been really helpful to me.
  • edited January 2010
    Posted By: BWABut when you say "D&D doesn't have this thing", that doesn't necessarily apply to everyone's games. When I play D&D, I definitely frame scenes harder than the way you describe
    Hey, that's cool. I know exactly what you mean because if I were to play D&D right now, I'd probably scene-frame too. D&D is inherently hard to nail down anyway because it has changed so much over the years.

    But I think there is a difference between games that use scene-framing explicitly as a technique, as defined by the text, and games where players use scene-framing techniques regardless of the game text. My point is that when people play in such a style that they're simply moving forward in time, describing everything from moment to moment (and I know I used to play this way back in high school), that's not scene-framing in the modern sense. "Describing a scene," in other words, is different from "scene-framing."

    (Also, please don't think I'm making value judgments here. I'm just trying to nail down a concept as I see it occurring.)
  • Posted By: Moreno R.- "Scene Framing": it exist in every role-playing game, because it exist in every narration: a game can't start without someone saying where the characters are.

    - "Aggressive scene framing": a technique used to "cut to action" leaving aside the "boring stuff", used in "story now" games but not only there. Defined in Sorcerer, I think (it's the first game where I have seen it explained), but I am not sure it wasn't defined before in other games.
    Yes, this is a very important distinction. I would say that "scene framing" exists in all games, whether it's done consciously or not. But "aggressive scene framing" is definitely a (optional) technique.
  • Posted By: Tim C Koppanghe sarcasm is not appreciated. You've picked out one sentence from my entire post and added nothing constructive. I'm willing to discuss, but what do you hope to accomplish with a comment like the one you posted?
    Maybe to head off another piece of gaming jargon at the pass before we have another "narrativism" that doesn't have anything to do with "narrative" as it is used in any other context, "simulationism" that doesn't have anything to do with "simulation" as it is used in any other context, "Story Now" where "Story" doesn't mean story and "Now" doesn't mean now, "The Impossible Thing Before Breakfast" which is neither impossible, nor a thing, nor before breakfast, or, well, put your favorite piece of jargon here.

    That's all. A modest aim, I hope you will agree.
  • Thor O said: "There are still many people who think that the "system" in "system matters" means rules."

    Whoa. I'm one of them. What's system mean if not rules? Procedures? Aren't those rules? Brain meltdown!
  • edited January 2010
    As a data point:

    I don't use Scene Framing when I play D&D. I draw the front doors of the dungeons on the battle map and tell the players to place their miniatures "sixty feet" away or whatever I consider "sight line" to be. Then from that point forward it's one long continuous action.

    Them: "We walk up to the door."
    Me: "It appears to be made of sturdy iron with some dragon carvings on it."
    Them: "I search it for traps." (rolls)
    Me: "You don't find any traps."
    Them: "I open the door."
    Me: "It opens easily you see a long corridor in front of you that doesn't appear to branch as far as your lantern casts its light."
    Them: "We'll start walking."
    Me: "You walk about 75 feet down the co-oridor when it ends in a plain wooden door and turns right where about 30 feet ahead of you it opens into another room."
    Them: "We open the door."
    Me: "Roll for initiative."

    Because there's never any cutting, there's never any framing. There's constant description of new areas and action but we never "frame to" anything.

    Jesse
  • I would say that every DM in every edition of D&D "frame a scene" every time the characters enter in a new room. The "scene structure" in a dungeon is based on opening doors and entering rooms.

    "I enter. What can I see inside?" is the request of the framing of a new scene.
  • Moreno,

    Here's another data point. I've observed that some people who come from the strong "continuous play" approach really have a hard time getting a handle on Scene Framing. There's a PtA game I'm running where every time I ask this one girl to give me the Location, Focus and Agenda she responds by telling me where her character is going and (sometimes) what she's doing. I've gone over the procedure many, many times and re-iterated that the scene doesn't have to even involve her character.

    Me: "Okay, your turn."
    Her: "I guess I'll go to City Hall and see what's up there."
    Me: "Erm.... so what's the Agenda?"
    Her: "Uh... I'm walking up the steps."
    Me: "Yes, but what's the agenda... what's happening... who else is there?"
    Her: "...."

    So, I don't buy that Scene Framing is used in every game, every where because I know people who can't do it even when given bullet point instructions like in PtA.

    Jesse
  • Posted By: Z-DogWhat's system mean if not rules?
    Ha. That question has a bit of history. Ron meant one thing by system when he laid out his "five elements" (setting, system, character, situation, color) but then Vincent/Emily "redefined" system to be the means by which the players decide on stuff happening, which includes lots of stuff beyond the formal rules. Sometimes that newer definition gets retroactively projected back on the past, but I'm not sure if that's what Thor meant. In the beginning, the "system matters" slogan was, I think, a reaction against "system doesn't matter" and, yes, was about the formal written game rules.
  • Posted By: Z-DogThor O said: "There are still many people who think that the "system" in "system matters" means rules."

    Whoa. I'm one of them. What's system mean if not rules? Procedures? Aren't those rules? Brain meltdown!
    Jonathan has it. The lumpley Principle: "System (including but not limited to 'the rules') is defined as the means by which the group agrees to imagined events during play."

    According to the lumpley Principle, your group's system includes the rules that your group uses, but not the rules that your group doesn't use. System also includes any other methods your group has of agreeing to events in play, including GM fiat.

    Because of this, when someone says "system matters," what it really means is "how your group goes about agreeing to imagined events during play matters."

    I don't think that invalidates or contradicts anything in the original System Does Matter essay. I would also consider the definition of system to be more of a clarification than a redefinition. This all got started with a post back in 2002.

    The distinction may seem minor, but it's very important, as Jason (rightly) reminds us on a regular basis.
  • edited January 2010
    Posted By: JDCorleyMaybe to head off another piece of gaming jargon at the pass (...)
    Considering that the usual format for threads these days seems to be "Let's talk about (insert jargon for something here)" followed by 20+ posts talking about all kinds of different things, then a long digression into those awful people who are ruining this thread because the jargon-thing they're talking about is NOT the jargon-thing they're supposed to be talking about, then a couple of different definitions for the jargon-thing get offered, except it's too late because no one wants to actually talk about that particular thing...

    ...so yeah, maybe it's time for everyone to either stop using jargon or to give their desired (narrow, specific, useless, etc.) definition on it right away so that we can break this cycle. Or, better yet, just lead with the definition of what you want to talk about, and then assign it some random word as jargon with the proviso that it will only ever be used within that specific thread. Something like "Chundermonkey" or "George" or "Flarglhat". I would be down for a good Flarglhat discussion.

    I think we all would.
  • Flarglhat's first album is killer.
  • YUO = FLARGLHAT
  • Posted By: Jesse
    So, I don't buy that Scene Framing is used in every game, every where because I know people who can't do it even when given bullet point instructions like in PtA.
    But that's NOT scene framing!

    Scene framing, in PTA, is still always done by the Producer (it's one of the most often misunderstood rules of the game). The player must give three information to the producer that are NOT naturally flowing from the story ("location" is easy, but what is "agenda"? Is a game costruct term you have to learn to use)

    What your player is doing, is "scene framing" instead of doing what the PTA rules say (that is not scene framing). Her error come from the excessive "familiarity" of scene framing. She is doing it as she see it in books.
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