These days I'm realizing more and more how important it is to me to have specific threads for specific conversations. Otherwise it all becomes a big mess with too many people trying to talk about too many thing.
Anyway, over in the The Forge's Winter Phase thread, Peter asked about games that support Right to Dream. His last post was:
Posted By: PeterBB@David:
I was mostly talking about games that actively support RTD play, like a lot of games actively support Story Now play. Both in the sense of "what games are there?" and in the sense of "what are good techniques for making such a game?". I can point you to lots of good Story Now-supporting games, and tell you how they support theme, and passionate characters in untenable situations, and whatever else. I can't do that with RTD. I'm wondering if I've just missed the conversation, or if this is a common problem.
I don't think you've missed the conversation, because I haven't seen any real talk about this either. I think that there are many reasons for this, but I wouldn't call it a problem. More of a simple oversight.
First of all, I'll just explain how I understand RtD, if you disagree, maybe we should figure that out first. I know a lot of people read RtD as "exploration squared" - all games are about Exploration (setting, colour, characters, situation, system) but RtD is somehow double that. I'm not buying that definition. I think "emulation" is much closer, but still not quite on target.
"Right to Dream" as the name for the agenda was chosen for a reason. It emphasizes the right
and the dream
. The dream is the fiction and its specific functions, elements and contents. Right means that the dream is of prime importance in this agenda. To protect the dream (and out right to it) we will fudge dice, eschew dramatic decisions, win (or lose) fights regardless of skill.
If there is a challenge or contest (Step on Up) it probably
takes second stage to "getting it right": the outcome is probably consensually known, and we aren't interested in showing our skill, merely affirming what we know should happen. If the dice speak against that, we'll discard them.
If there is a real, actual dramatic decision with consequences to be made (Story Now), we might
shy away from it, because it would mean turning off the GPS and making a blind turn.
In Vincent's words it's about keeping certain things about the fiction sacrosanct. It's about affirmation ("this is how it should be") and constructive denial ("I don't want that to happen") and the right to have those claims fulfilled. K?
So, because of these traits of RtD, there are lots of games that can do it. The second reason is that most designers working with CA aren't really interested in pursuing this agenda.
I'm thinking aloud now, trying to identify ways to do RtD with certain games. I might surprise myself along the way.
I think FATE and GURPS can both do pretty good RtD. I wouldn't say they actively support it, but they can support it. I think FATE is enough of a toolkit that you can easily use it for Step on Up play, too, and it's certainly possible to do some Story Now with it. But the way Fate points work, that's a collaborative method of giving people the Right. It depends on the people playing, obviously
, but it can be used for this purpose. Paying, compelling, invoking etc. are ways of saying "I want this to happen" and "I don't want this to happen". FATE works well as RtD when the group is collectively using Fate points to enforce a certain tone, genre, archetype or story. When we play StoC, we use points to say "this belongs in pulp". What FATE is missing, maybe, is a way to explicitly say "this doesn't belong", except when you refuse a compel.
I think GURPS on the other hand is very much about keeping Setting and its specific Colour sacrosanct, as opposed to characters or narrative. If we pick up the GURPS WW2 book, we're probably saying "we want to play it like it was
". The world, with all its realities, is sacrosanct. This has nothing to do with the rules simulating ingame physics or anything like that, but saying "this is how it was, this is how it should be, this is how it is", the numerous setting books and optional rules help you include or exclude things. Character building also offers lots and lots of options on how to build your specific gal or dude, but it takes second stage to setting. GURPS is pre-agenda design, but if it has any agenda is getting the world/setting right, which can certainly be RtD play.
Next on, I take a peek at Archipelago II. There are things in the game that are very much about challenging the other players' dreams: for example, if I make my character a pacifist, the game advises the other players to make my character shoot a guy by the end of the session - this means that I don't have the right to dream my character as a pacifist. In this instance, the game is hostile to my specific dream. But.
Once the other players create a fate for my character (shoot a guy), we know it's pretty much going to happen. There's a certain level of group consensus going on here about what should happen and how the story should go.
Furthermore, Archipelago has two powerful tools/rules at its disposal: "Describe that in more detail"
and "Try another way"
. If we were using only these two, without relying on other rules, Archipelago could be a powerful (if simplistic) RtD engine. Describe that in more detail = I want this in my game, I want more of it, Try another way = this doesn't fit into my/our dream.
Moreno also mentioned A Taste for Murder and It's Complicated. Sadly, I own neither game, so I can't really dig deep. But I know a little more about A Taste for Murder, so I'm going to look at that. What A Taste for Murder does, what "it's all about" is emulating Agatha Christie-type murder mysteries. Sure, there might be a competitive element (I know Graham put a certain dice mechanic in where you can compete with another player), but it's not the point, it's more of a fun aside (I think). Maybe finding the murderer could be a "win condition", if you're inclined to play that way, I dunno. It could be story now, because it certainly has characters with passions in hard situations, but we all know what will happen, don't we? No meaningful conflict, the result of "escalation" is clear. So what the game does, really does, is keep the functions of the whodunit narrative sacrosanct. There are three acts, people are fucked up, there's a murder, etc. This is what we want and expect when we read Christie, this is what you get when you play ATFM. I think it's telling that some actual play reports describe a failed game because people were not familiar with the source material: they weren't on board with the dream, they weren't really sure about what was right and what was wrong for this kind of story.
I think David's game Delve
is also a very strong, if not the best example, that's why I'm leaving it for last. There's no other resolution than agreement, common sense and judgement calls. When it fits, we include it, when it doesn't we throw it away. The game was certainly explicitly built to support this agenda.
So, that's me. Interested in what other people think.