When the die roll does *NOT* determine what happens

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  • edited December 2018
    Just to clarify, Adam, when I asked what you got out of it, I didn't mean "what concepts", I meant "what utility". Like, how have these concepts helped your play (or design or enjoyment or something)?

    I know that's a tough question, though, so feel free to leave it at "spoke to me deeply" and I can infer the usual benefits which come from that. :)
  • I guess in the analogy the Joy sculpture represents (for example) getting the aspects of the setting exactly right. If that's flawed, then the Sim group who are pure-for-setting are not going to enjoy the other stuff so much.

    I'd guess that Jay's group is focusing on getting Situation right, actually, where Character and Setting meet. All his descriptions seem to be about Situations. (And a kind of Immersion that is highly dependent on Situation, I think.) But I'm just guessing.
  • I don't think we're disagreeing at all, David! You just like different stuff.

    So you generally enjoy Sim/RtD play. Note that "totally awesome" is undefined and is basically a restatement of "we have fulfilled our Creative Agenda." What makes play totally awesome for you?
  • "Totally awesome" is Jay hunting down the dude who got his mom killed, screaming at him, then deciding that instead of killing the guy, he'd sentence him to forever bear the pain of Jay's character's loss.

    To me, that's not LotR done right, it's LotR by Jay.

    Aping LotR is easy. Doing something a little bit new with LotR, in a way that speaks to the history it's now a part of, is a worthy challenge. :)

    At least, that's the best I can figure.

    I have done almost no canonical setting gaming. My "wow dude that really resonates with what's come before in play, you rock" moments and patterns have mostly come in years-long homebrews. But also sometimes in very atmospheric, well-acted one-shots. When that sort of resonant contribution-and-appreciating has been the primary, secondary, or tertiary reward cycle, I'm not clear on.
  • Weird question: Are you excited about the Narr aspects of Jay's play?
  • Jay will have to confirm or deny, but I'm not sure that Jay and company feel any compunction to treat the Middle Earth setting as sacrosanct. They probably run roughshod over canon in pursuit of whatever they want out of the game, as it suits their purposes. That's still very much Sim. I never said "LotR done right." To them, "right" is focus on something else (maybe Situation), while being set in a Middle Earth recognizable and useful to them.
  • edited December 2018
    Hi Adam,

    As Chris described the bricolage sculpture (and this is where the analogy to semiotics breaks down) it's not that one creates a sculpture that depicts the abstracted idea of joy but rather its about joyfully creating through the sculpting process. Or if brooding is the "emotion" being worked on then the idea is create the feeling of brooding through the process of creating a sculpture.

    But all this is a terrible misapplication of the analogy as employed by Chris (and Claude Levi Strauss) bricolage deals with structures and their inter-relationships. The analogy treats the "pieces" as vastly complex meaning structures such that to truly understand a given piece is jump down the rabbit hole of further analysis on and on forever.

    Let's not get too hung up on the actual 3D art form and treat it instead as vastly simplified analogy for mythic thought. Bricolage as analogy is not "about" the the sculpture as a completed object but rather as representing a process AND the totality with "problems" that both informs and drives the ever ongoing process. In myth, as in jazz, there is no end or finality. A performance or a given telling may end but myth is process just as jazz is about the creation of something new every time.

    Best,

    Jay
  • In short, I think this "canonical" thing is a red herring. Sim doesn't require fidelity to setting.
  • edited December 2018
    Weird question: Are you excited about the Narr aspects of Jay's play?
    Totally. Those make for great snapshot moments of fiction.

    I'm more excited about the idea of adding to Cary Tolkein, I think... but without having played with these guys, I'm just guessing...
    To them, "right" is focus on something else (maybe Situation), while being set in a Middle Earth recognizable and useful to them.
    Okay, we're more on the same page than I thought. Still, though, I think "right" is an inferior concept to... well, instead of "awesome", let's say "skillful".

    Playing skillfully includes getting it right, but also going beyond that to say something new that resonates.

    Actually, hmm, my supervillain game gets a lot of that. While addressing premise. I dunno.

    FWIW, I would not say that I generally enjoy Sim/RtD play. That is way broader a statement than I'm comfortable with. If we want to broadly generalize, I'd much rather just say that I like roleplaying. :)
  • No, I don't think skillful is anyone's end goal in Sim. It's the means to an end. You do it so you get the game you want. If you suck at it, you don't get the game you want.

    Sim game groups are known to have "tryouts" for new players, to see if they fit. They often form long-running groups of like-minded players playing the same campaign. It's partly because putting together a group who "gets it (right)" is hard to do. It takes skill. It takes knowing each other. It takes building up a shared vocabulary, the semiotics part of semiotic jazz.

    "Semiotic jazz" works as shorthand because it conveys a lot of important ideas about difficulty and skill, teamwork and improvisation, meaning and shared language, timing and rhythm, joy and work, structure and surprise.
  • edited March 23
    Addenda,

    I should note that we do not focus on getting Situation "right". I'm not sure what it is all about, yet, but I can definitely say that it's not about getting Situation "right" - whatever that means. As roleplay is about dealing with Situation (which is the collision between Character and Setting) in a way that is aesthetically pleasing (which is what CA describes - Addressing Challenge {a type of Situation}, Addressing Premise {a type of Situation}, and Addressing Situation constrained by all the resonating pieces of the Source Material and past play events using a semiotic-bricolage like process that I'm calling Semiotic Jazz) to the group.

    It's not about getting it "right" as in doing it well. There's no particular focus on any particular part of Exploration as more important than there is in G/N. What informs our play is the Source Material/Standard. Yes our Setting is Middle Earth, but it's not the physicality of the world (Setting) that is important as is what everything means and what is meaningful to us.

    Best,

    Jay.
  • No, I don't think skillful is anyone's end goal in Sim. It's the means to an end. You do it so you get the game you want.
    I shoulda stuck with "awesome" then. You don't want a game that's "right", you want a game that's awesome. Your job is to contribute to the awesomeness by being awesome in making awesome contributions. Which are contributions that fit with the shared appreciation-of-stuff, sure, but also resonate with it and add to it.
  • I struggle with "awesome" because Creative Agenda is another way of saying, "what makes play awesome for your group?" Why are you doing this? How would you judge everything you do in gameplay, if you were to stop and think about it, to know if it helps you achieve your goals or hinders them? That's CA.

    Skill is a measure of an individual player's ability to rise to the challenge of the group's CA.

    Narrativist -> Address premise, get a story now and not later
    Gamist -> Demonstrate superior skill, step on up to the challenges in front of us
    Simulationist -> Explore and create together, but get it (some part of it) Right
  • edited December 2018
    Maybe this is just a language thing. To me, "right" denotes mere correctness, and not any sort of awesomeness.

    Aside from being a contrast to "right", yeah, I guess "awesome" is a useless label.

    What makes Jay's game sound awesome to me is the way the players' contributions resonate with what has come before. The way the disappearance of Balrogs at the end of the First Age imbues this Balrog with meaning, and the way the ranger's reaction to the Balrog imbues more meaning to the change of the Ages, and so on.
  • edited December 2018
    Hi Adam,
    Jay will have to confirm or deny, but I'm not sure that Jay and company feel any compunction to treat the Middle Earth setting as sacrosanct. They probably run roughshod over canon in pursuit of whatever they want out of the game, as it suits their purposes. That's still very much Sim. I never said "LotR done right." To them, "right" is focus on something else (maybe Situation), while being set in a Middle Earth recognizable and useful to them.
    I'm going to have to get a better understanding of what you mean by "Setting" in order to answer you in an effective manner. I will say that we are all struggling a valiantly as we can to keep Middle Earth (Ea) from falling under the sway of Sauron. We have all done so, at times, by way of sacrificing beloved long held characters to save the life of an important NPC such as Gandalf, Aragorn and Boromir. We've also sacrificed equally deal characters to try and protect realms like Imladris and Gondor. We are fighting and losing things (our beloved characters) that are emotionally devastating to us as players to "preserve" Middle Earth". Conversely when Elladan and Elrohir were killed in a tragic moment of play we were equally devastated. I mean to the point that it nearly shut down (at that moment) of that night's gaming and I know that I wanted to take time away to grieve.

    So I'm not sure what you mean by "run roughshod over Setting". If you would clarify I would be most appreciative.

    Best,

    Jay
  • edited December 2018
    My supervillain game gets a lot of Magneto-ish behavior from the Magneto-ish character, which everyone enjoys, but I think the part everyone enjoys most is when the player does something idiosyncratically "Magneto-with-a-twist". Like, maybe a godlike display of power with no warning when someone is in the middle of a sentence. Magneto never really does that because of the way the comics and movies are scripted. It's funny and unexpected, and as we synthesize this sort of behavior and delivery and storytelling into our own personal troves of supervillainy, we feel those troves expand. I think that's what play rewards most, and what would most keep people wanting to play again.

    I wouldn't call that sudden power burst "getting it right". I would call it something more like expanding, or riffing off the standard...
  • You just described a bunch of Situations and named some Characters. You named two realms of the Setting, but did not really describe any of the Setting canon.

    My suspicion is that you take the canon of Middle Earth as a starting point, then do your own thing inside that setting.

    I'm using the Forge definition of Setting: "Elements described about a fictitious game world including period, locations, cultures, historical events, and characters, usually at a large scale relative to the presence of the player-characters." The last phrase about relative scale is important.

    How tied up are you in the minutiae of the Middle Earth setting canon, as you'd find in detailed encyclopedias of places and characters and magic and such? If someone gets a little thing about that stuff wrong, is it corrected by others during play?
  • I agree with Adam and Dave that "awesome" is not a good descriptor of this particular form of play as "awesome" happens in any CA when everything clicks and the players are really grooving on what's happening.

    Best,

    Jay
  • edited December 2018
    I wouldn't call that sudden power burst "getting it right". I would call it something more like expanding, or riffing off the standard...
    Just to clarify the "expanding" bit -- now that this table's experience of supervillainy includes the disdainfully epic nonsequitur, we might well see someone riff off that later in the session, e.g. by self-consciously pausing to let a monologue finish, in the process highlighting the absurdity of the status quo (which the previous player's contribution has now exposed).

    If "right"ness has any place here, perhaps the emphasis should be on creating what's "right" rather than on adhering to it.

    I think I still like "resonant" better than "right", though.
  • edited December 2018
    I'm with Adam on this. There are lots of different ways to describe this thing, but it all sounds like we're talking about the *same* thing, to me.

    Getting something "right" is a little bit weak-sounding, which is why I liked the term "celebrating", and Dave's "expand", as well. It makes sense to me in this context, however. ("Addressing premise" doesn't sound all that exciting on paper either, in other words.)

    I suppose all these things are vague enough that we can form whatever mental image we have, based on a catchphrase, and then arguing about our particular visions and how they differ is a little silly.

    If "right"ness has any place here, perhaps the emphasis should be on creating what's "right" rather than on adhering to it.
    That's always been my takeaway from the word "right" in that context:

    Not that there's an objective measure of correctness, which me strive to score well on, but that we're creating stuff together, and it's when the whole table goes, "Ooh, yeah! That's exactly it!", grinning and smiling (or crying, or whatever), that the social reward cycle kicks in, and everyone is grooving on the content.

    For instance, finding out that Saruman was behind the drought in the steppes? "Yes, that resonates with me; it feels right, in my bones."

    It's a combination of being surprised (you didn't *know* it was Saruman), which keeps you interested, and it feeling like it's just the right thing; that it fits in the logic and aesthetic of the setting, story, and characters you're all building together.

    I like the term 'resonant', too, but, as I said earlier, it's awfully hard to disentangle from Narrativist concerns. Does the Lord of the Rings resonate with us because it's got dramatic heroes and incredible, mythic-quality landscapes and history, or because we appreciate seeing the humble and the righteous triumph over self-destructive evil? In good fiction, those things are never separate.
  • As someone who is pretty familiar with Dave's supervillain game (Within My Clutches), I should perhaps share my own observations (this is mostly for Dave's benefit, granted):
    My supervillain game gets a lot of Magneto-ish behavior from the Magneto-ish character, which everyone enjoys, but I think the part everyone enjoys most is when the player does something idiosyncratically "Magneto-with-a-twist". Like, maybe a godlike display of power with no warning when someone is in the middle of a sentence. Magneto never really does that because of the way the comics and movies are scripted. It's funny and unexpected, and as we synthesize this sort of behavior and delivery and storytelling into our own personal troves of supervillainy, we feel those troves expand. I think that's what play rewards most, and what would most keep people wanting to play again.
    I think that sounds accurate, and, in my understanding, is a pretty good formulation of RtD/Sim play. That thing you're describing there is exactly what I always took from Ron's talk of "constructive denial" or "potential violation of the package": we're pushing at the limits of this thing we all love (whether we're creating it from scratch or not!), and it feels really good when we can expand it without breaking it or making it feel like it doesn't matter or isn't real anymore.

    Within My Clutches seems like a very clear Sim-supporting design to me, as well. About as clear as you can get! You can set a scene to "revel in your villainy", for instance, to stage a monologue as your villain. That's, like, the definition of Sim, I think.

    It's true that there's a minigame in terms of the dice play in there, and the possibility for some thematic choices when making the final roll, but I think those are fairly minor points in comparison with the main joy of riffing off this thing together.

    Perhaps it's a perfect example of the word "right", as well:

    At the end of the game, each player gets to finally expose their villain's evil "master plan" to the others, after having hinted about it throughout the game.

    I'd say that the most satisfying experiences of playing the game are when you deliver that monologue and the whole tables cheers and nods and smiles: "Yeah, that fits everything we've learned so far, and it *feels right* - it's an excellent villainous plan that's believable and exciting and surprising, but in all the right ways we'd expect from a villain's secret plan. We love it!"


    In contrast, I'm not even entirely sure that the Spicy Dice game is Sim play! A lot of the emotional resonance sounds very Narrativist-like, and Jay has made references throughout to how you have to effectively "play smart" or you'll die, and how many players can't handle that or make the right decisions or deductions fast enough. But that's a whole kettle of fish I don't expect anyone to settle on the internet! I think we would need a lot more insight into the GM's side of the game to really get a sense of what's going on.


  • If "right"ness has any place here, perhaps the emphasis should be on creating what's "right" rather than on adhering to it.
    Yes! Creating what is right! It's way less passive than adhering. Adhering might be part of it, but it's a creative agenda. It's all about creating.

    Not that there's an objective measure of correctness, which me strive to score well on, but that we're creating stuff together, and it's when the whole table goes, "Ooh, yeah! That's exactly it!", grinning and smiling (or crying, or whatever), that the social reward cycle kicks in, and everyone is grooving on the content.
    It's exactly it, because you all got it right, which is the end goal (Creative Agenda). But it's not the process. There are a lot of little trained, correct inputs and gentle edits and non-disrupting blocks that get it there. That's the process (Technique layer).
  • Perhaps it's a perfect example of the word "right", as well:

    At the end of the game, each player gets to finally expose their villain's evil "master plan" to the others, after having hinted about it throughout the game.

    I'd say that the most satisfying experiences of playing the game are when you deliver that monologue and the whole tables cheers and nods and smiles: "Yeah, that fits everything we've learned so far, and it *feels right* - it's an excellent villainous plan that's believable and exciting and surprising, but in all the right ways we'd expect from a villain's secret plan. We love it!"
    Yes, that's it.
  • edited December 2018
    "Yeah, that fits everything we've learned so far, and it *feels right* - it's an excellent villainous plan that's believable and exciting and surprising, but in all the right ways we'd expect from a villain's secret plan. We love it!"
    If that's your response, cool. :) If I'm smiling and cheering, I'm probably barely registering whether it feels right, as opposed to whether it contributes something new which significantly adds to and recontextualizes what's come before.
  • edited December 2018
    Yeah, I hear you. I think both must be there for truly great play; I suppose the theory suggests that the former (feeling right) is what must be satisfied first for the group to feel play is fulfilling its purpose, before the latter (does this contribute something new?) is assessed.

    However, I don't know if I agree with that, in my experience (I'd have to think about it.) Like "resonance" and premise-addressing, I find "it feels right" and "it contributes something which adds to what's come before" are so heavily overlapping that I'm not sure how to separate them. Contributing something new, significantly adding to and recontextualizing what came before, in other words, are big parts, for me, of what make it "feel right".


    EDIT: More importantly, though, I don't think that formulation makes any sense if what you're expecting is for the player's monologue to be all "Hey! That feels right!", any more than the first thought of the player in successful Narrativist play is, "Yes!!! That totally addresses premise!" They are technical terms, here, not descriptive of the full joy of human experience. :)
  • NO PAUL WE MUST RIGOROUSLY CODIFY THE FULL JOY OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE
  • If adding something new and resonant is part of "feels right", then I think we're talking about the same thing. I just wouldn't summarize that thing with the phrase "feels right" myself. I think that's in the same "how? why?" territory as "awesome".

    I think I'm gonna stick with "resonates" for now...
  • I agree with you. I think the reason "feels right" is interesting for this discussion is not because it describes human joy accurately, but because it's at least an attempt to nail down what's *unique* or *particular* about this style of play (as opposed to other ways to play and enjoy games).

    "Resonates" is awesome but too easy to confuse with general sentiments of "hey this game is totally cool, bro".
  • edited December 2018
    @David_Berg RotF You totally wiped me with this impersonation of HAL 9000.
  • NO PAUL WE MUST RIGOROUSLY CODIFY THE FULL JOY OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE
    Roll to contain your grief.

    image
  • Now that's the old Story Games I know and love!

    Get out those index cards... ;)
  • edited January 3
    "Totally awesome" is Jay hunting down the dude who got his mom killed, screaming at him, then deciding that instead of killing the guy, he'd sentence him to forever bear the pain of Jay's character's loss.

    To me, that's not LotR done right, it's LotR by Jay.

    Aping LotR is easy. Doing something a little bit new with LotR, in a way that speaks to the history it's now a part of, is a worthy challenge. :)
    This to me is key. The only thing that can be LoTR is LoTR. This very idea was discussed at some great depth in a these two threads entitled A wild and an untamed thing - how literature refuses gaming and On RPGs and Text [LONG]. There may have been others but these two were the most salient.

    First and foremost is the idea only the text can be the text. Anything else is quite literally something else. FREX - the movies of the LoTR is not the book LoTR even if every event and piece of dialogue was unaltered. One takeaway from the two threads is that using a given work as the source material for a game/campaign does not, cannot be considered self same as the source material. The transition from the literary work (or movie, etc.) to what happens during play is an entirely different work.

    To quote M. John Harrison who was the reference of the first link -
    The moment you concern yourself with the economic geography of pseudo-feudal societies, with the real way to use swords, with the politics of courts, you have diluted the poetic power of Tolkien's images. You have brought them under control. You have tamed, colonised and put your own cultural mark on them.
    ...and by gum, he's right! That is exactly what we're doing and that's how role-play functions.

    One of the points is that the moment one starts to translate a work from one medium to another (book -> RPG) the work changes. Chris Lehrich later argues that while it is true that the change from one medium to another does create a wholly new body of work he does argue strongly against the idea that the sense of power and wonder is forever lost. Power and wonder can be created through the role-play process...its just not the same as in the original work. And that's a good thing!

    The takeaway is that role-play will and must alter the source material. That's what role-playing does. It is impossible to not alter the source material and be role-playing...or at least not be expressing a Creative Agenda. The mere coughing up of pedantic details without putting them to use is more a game closer to a board game along the lines of Trivial Pursuit where nothing is changed WRT the source material than it is to role-playing.

    Adam,
    Jay will have to confirm or deny, but I'm not sure that Jay and company feel any compunction to treat the Middle Earth setting as sacrosanct. They probably run roughshod over canon in pursuit of whatever they want out of the game, as it suits their purposes.
    You are both right and wrong. We don't worship at the altar of LoTR as a static stone carved deity that can never change, but change must happen or we're not role-playing. We constantly bear in mind the canon when playing and making our decisions. I've met Gandalf and spoken with him in game. That act, prima facie, breaks canon as no character of mine exists within the canonical works. The bigger question is will taking this action promote the large long term themes of the book or no. If the changing of a detail means that the larger scope of events keep moving in the right direction then yes we'll make that choice to alter canon. But it is most definitely not something that is done in a "roughshod" manner with no thought on its bearing to what we love. Yet, what we love is what we love - which is not self same as the book. Even the book is subject to interpretation which varies from reader to reader. If blind repetition is the goal then it could be argued that one has not even entered the work of the given piece of literature itself.

    (Aside - many years ago when Elladan and Elrohir were killed I began to despair that the game had totally left the realm of ME. In the end I decided that was not the case for many of the reasons cited above.)

    Best,

    Jay
  • I have a better understanding of what you're doing now!

    This, to me, is exactly what the "right" in "Right to Dream" is about.
  • Indeed! Me too.

    It's not "is this right?" It is "yes, this feels right." And, moreover the ability to grant yourself the right to do that - both to accomplish it in the first place and to judge it satisfactory.
  • edited January 3
    It seems to me that Paul, Adam, Jay and I have some non-identical but overlapping understandings of what's going on in Jay's play. Personally, I feel that "right"/"rights" talk is making it much harder to communicate about that.

    It seems natural to me that, in roleplay which employs some external source material, the players will riff off that source material in some fashion, and have opinions on each other's riffing. I think these sorts of responses are possible in any such game:

    "Oh, absolutely, that's just perfect, exactly what should happen there."

    "Whoa, I never expected that! That's a bold new direction to take things in."

    "Wait, can we please not do that? That feels totally inappropriate."

    The presence of such possibilities doesn't necessarily tell us all that much, I don't think, about the primary drives and rewards of play. (Of course in any creative endeavor the participants will grant themselves the right/permission to have opinions on what feels right/good/awesome, and to try to do stuff that feels right/good/awesome.)

    I think some of Jay's descriptions of Semiotic Jazz get us much closer to a useful understanding of the core of play. Not only might we care about how Tolkein is honored, celebrated, stretched, repurposed, accidentally violated, etc., but we are also (and more importantly) engaged in a bricolage-like process of collective meaningfulness-building.

    Meaningfulness is primarily about what I'm calling resonance -- contributing something new into play which interacts with what's already been played, to make a sum greater than the respective parts. You might resonate with everyone's knowledge of Tolkein, sure, but the bigger payoffs (if I read Jay correctly) arrive when you resonate with the fabric of everyone's current understanding and past experience of the complete fictional world/history of play.

    Evoking the elves' relationship with your character's commander, for example, connects some dots in a very satisfying way. If "resonating" is a confusing word, then maybe "linking", "connecting", or "weaving" would be worth a shot. Sometimes it's a more literal linking -- an explicit call-back to a previous event or NPC -- while other times it's more of a thematic linking, e.g. the way this noble character faces impossible odds for the good of their home, compared to other similar events in prior play.

    Successful contribution, as I see it, is like a neural impulse sent through a highly connected region of the brain, dense with rich associations and frequent use.

    Unsuccessful contribution, on the other hand, would just flicker out through seldom-used, sparsely connected neurons and fall flat. Because it isn't resonant, or highly connected, or rich with associations.

    I don't think any discussion of "right"/"rights" captures any of that. I'd prefer to find a better way forward. Are any of my alternate phrasings here working for anybody?
  • edited January 3
    Hey Adam,
    I have a better understanding of what you're doing now!

    This, to me, is exactly what the "right" in "Right to Dream" is about.
    Not to put too fine a point on it, but you're typing gibberish to me. Please define "Right" and please define what exactly the process of "to Dream" means because neither phrase sheds any light on the subject.

    EVERYONE has the right to Step on Up. EVERYONE has the right to make Story Now. As a descriptor the "Right" to do anything is empty.

    Along the same lines what does it mean to "Dream"? Does daydreaming about what you plan to do in your next gaming at work session count as "to Dream". For that matter does having REM Dreams about one's character while one sleeps count as the process "to Dream"? Or does reading the book (if a book happens to be the source material) and imagining the events in your mind's eye constitute the process of "to Dream"?

    The statement "The Right to Dream" while grammatically correct is as an empty a phrase as "The emotional problems of rocks." Grammatically correct but utterly meaningless.

    So please, just this one time, please engage with me and answer the following questions because so far all I've gotten is statements of conclusion but no arguments.
    1. What does "the Right" mean that is in any way different from the Right to engage in any other CA?

    2. Please describe, in reasonable detail, what exactly is involved in the process of the infinitive verb form of "to Dream" with regards to the roleplay process.
    Until you answer these questions I cannot even be sure that we are talking about role-playing. I've made my arguments for Semiotic Jazz and they fulfill all the necessities to be described as Creative Agenda informed process of Exploration.

    I eagerly await yours.

    Best,

    Jay
  • edited January 3
    Hey Paul,
    Indeed! Me too.

    It's not "is this right?" It is "yes, this feels right." And, moreover the ability to grant yourself the right to do that - both to accomplish it in the first place and to judge it satisfactory.
    You've described to me a process of jazz (for which I am deeply grateful) that most certainly did not revolve around the nebulous feeling of "this feels right" as the guiding creative process. My sense was the process was much more rigorous. I suppose the rare extraordinarily talented individual can blunder through playing improvisational jazz and create something that is interesting to listen to without intimate knowledge of the Standard, a deep understanding of music theory, without taking the effort of developing the chordal progression, picking up any instrument for the first time and going by just what "feels right". But my sense of the art form is that the chances of such a process based primarily on "that feels right" is extremely unlikely (not impossible) to result in anything remotely close to "music". Yet the empty methodless description you offer is just the process I have described above. Utterly unenlightening.

    To say that "yeah, this feels right" is the process which leads to great play is to do as much violence to those who play improvisational jazz as to those who play semiotic jazz.

    To describe improv jazz in such loving detail and the whole process behind it which requires so much hard earned and learned knowledge of music while then referring to semiotic jazz (with such close parallels) in such an off handed simplistic way leads me to cognitive dissonance.

    I cannot reconcile the two different ways you talk about improv jazz on the one hand and semiotic jazz on the other. I don't get it. Seriously. I am at a complete and total loss.

    Any enlightenment about the contradiction you offer me that would resolve it would be deeply appreciated. Until then I don't know what to say...

    Best,

    Jay
  • @Silmenume I knew Paul and Adam's choice of words would frustrate you, so I tried to head that off. Please see my post above yours.

    I don't think asking them to justify their wording is fruitful. Their wording works for them, to put into their own words how they see things. It does not work as a communication tool for you and me.

    To the extent that this thread continues to discuss terminology and communication, I'd prefer to focus on finding useful new options, rather than critiquing a phrase Ron coined 15 years ago, a phrase whose utility is unlikely to change at this point IMO.

    Do you think "linking", "connecting", "weaving", or "resonating" are getting anywhere? Got any better ideas?
  • Hey David,
    I don't think asking them to justify their wording is fruitful. Their wording works for them, to put into their own words how they see things. It does not work as a communication tool for you and me.
    I'm not asking for justification, I'm asking for explanation. In any fruitful discussion there must be an agreed upon foundation. If that foundation does not exist then there can be no discussion. IOW we're not talking about the same thing - which means in the end there is no point in even trying to communicate. If that is indeed the case, that is fine, but the consequence is that we agree that we make no further attempts at communicating as we are wasting each other's time. Which, to me, is a tragedy but, again, is fine. But let us honest about that.

    I agree, that on one level it is foolish to continue to critique Ron's 15 year old phrase but it's the elephant in the room that just won't die and go away. So while you and I are talking about Semiotic Jazz in comes this revenant idea that keeps haunting any discussion about this particular topic. So, do I let it do damage to the nascent thesis and just rudely ignore posters or do I engage?

    I'm guessing the subtext here is to disengage. So be it.
    Do you think "linking", "connecting", "weaving", or "resonating" are getting anywhere? Got any better ideas?
    As descriptors they all have their place and work just fine in the right place. However, I offer this caveat. Any CA that is being hit dead on by the group is going to "resonate" with the players at the table. I've heard cheering come from Gamist games and tears from Narrativist games. As process "linking", "connecting" and "weaving" are probably more closely aligned with the process of SJ. They are all reflective of the process of mythic bricolage and function well with the less-freighted-with-baggage idea of Semiotic Jazz.

    Best,

    Jay
  • edited January 3
    Ehn, I assume we all ignore stuff we can't respond to constructively. Seems normal to me. But to each their own.

    I honestly can't tell whether you and Adam or you and Paul are talking about the same thing. It seems tricky to pin down, and I suspect it'll take dozens of long posts to figure it out. I'd rather not have that here in this thread. Maybe start a new one? If y'all think you can iron it out quickly here, though, feel free!
    Any CA that is being hit dead on by the group is going to "resonate" with the players at the table.
    Very true. It's a bad word choice for discussing the player level. I intended to single it out only with respect to the fictional level. Like, in a good Narrativist game, what a player does might resonate with the other players' real lives and values and moral interests etc. In Semiotic Jazz, on the other hand, what a player does might resonate with the group because it resonates with the fiction.

    So I guess "fiction-resonant" would be the most accurate term for what I mean.

    Hmm, that's not super catchy, is it...
    As process "linking", "connecting" and "weaving" are probably more closely aligned with the process of SJ. They are all reflective of the process of mythic bricolage and function well with the less-freighted-with-baggage idea of Semiotic Jazz.
    Good call: these better describe the process than the point. I guess the point really is the meaning-making. Although if the only relevant way to make meaning in Semiotic Jazz is to forge links, then maybe something like "linking" is sufficient? "Link-forging", maybe?
  • I was thinking about this process of forging links between momentary character action and the larger history of the fiction, and I cooked up some PbtA-style moves. Jay's group obviously doesn't need these, but for a new group playing in this style, perhaps these might be valuable training wheels, to introduce the appropriate sorts of things to try to contribute?

    Five things quickly came to mind:
    • In a social situation, the character brings up some sort of connection with the person/people they're interacting with, be it a personal bond, a shared ally, a history of cooperation between groups, etc. These sorts of invocations may matter a great deal to certain people in Spicy Middle Earth.
    • In a fiction where the characters care about history, this history can be its own special sort of connection. "The threat is as great as when X happened," "Our best hope is to do like when Y happened," "We're both descended of those who did Z," etc.
    • Win or lose the immediate fight, a character may sometimes take a stand for something greater, often to set an example, to represent an ideal or a people. Depending on how it plays out, such a deed may act as future inspiration to others.
    • When motivated to defend their land or people (which the player must show in action!), a character may find reserves of strength or capability they never knew they had.
    • Finally, a character may derive confidence from repeating patterns of the glorious or noble past. Depending on one's take on Middle Earth metaphysics, such patterns may in fact have power of their own.
    So, the moves:

    Invoke a connection
    10+ plus 2 to Persuade, Inspire or Appeal to history
    7-9 plus 1 to Persuade, Inspire or Appeal to history
    6- your effort is seen as insincere, desperate or forced; minus 1 to next related roll

    Appeal to history
    10+ plus 2 to Persuade, Inspire or Invoke a connection
    7-9 plus 1 to Persuade, Inspire or Invoke a connection
    6- your effort is seen as insincere, desperate or forced; minus 1 to next related roll

    Leave your mark
    10+ will be remembered as an example, giving +1 to those who use it in Appeal to History
    7-9 will be remembered - if you prevail, as 10+ above; if you fail, as a -1 cautionary tale
    6- time will forget what you do here

    Defend your land or people
    10+ plus 2 for rest of encounter
    7-9 plus 1 for rest of encounter
    6- the threat to your land/people is worse than you knew

    Walk in the footsteps of giants
    10+ plus 2 to emulate their successes and avoid their failures
    7-9 plus 2 to emulate their successes, -2 to avoid their failures
    6- their enemies and weaknesses come to plague you

    Thoughts?
  • Ooh, this is very slick:

    Walk in the footsteps of giants
    ...
    7-9 plus 2 to emulate their successes, -2 to avoid their failures
    ...
  • Jay,

    I was just using "Right to Dream" and other Forge jargon as shorthand to refer to many countless discussions about that kind of play, believing mistakenly that you understood it as such and would be able to unpack it.

    It's also shorthand for the kind of play I described a few times in this thread, so I'm not sure repeating myself is very interesting or useful for anyone. As David says, that's not likely to be much of a fruitful approach.

  • All role-play builds collective semantic meaning in the way that Jay talks about. It's basically what "Shared Imagined Space" is all about, after all. I just think that Jay's group plays in a way that puts additional emphasis on that aspect of play over others.

    The question Creative Agenda tried to answer is, "How does a functional play group decide what is good play?" and to a lesser extent, "How does a member of a functional play group decide what is good input into play?" When all the stars are aligned, when all cylinders are firing in the proper sequence, you get a kind of magic at the table.
  • edited January 4
    Adam, I suspect "additional emphasis" vs "meaningfully separate thing on top" is the sticking point here.

    My take is that there is zero meaningful similarity between (a) the collective meaning-building of an old-school dungeon crawl and (b) the sort of "momentary fiction resonating with prior fiction" meaning-building of Spicy Middle Earth.

    Are we at "agree to disagree" time, or do you think there's more worth discussing here?
  • (I don't have time for a lengthy reply, but please also take my comments in the context of this ongoing discussion. I'm saying things and emphasizing things because I feel they support and reinforce the depth and breadth of what we're discussing, not as counter-points. Jay, don't mistake my brevity for a lack of understanding!)
  • David,

    I'm a bit gobsmacked that we're at such conceptual odds here. I think there's something worth discussing because my kneejerk reaction to "there is zero meaningful similarity" is to yell, "They're exactly the same thing!"

    Here or another thread?
  • Adam, I suspect "additional emphasis" vs "meaningfully separate thing on top" is the sticking point here.

    My take is that there is zero meaningful similarity between (a) the collective meaning-building of an old-school dungeon crawl and (b) the sort of "momentary fiction resonating with prior fiction" meaning-building of Spicy Middle Earth.

    Are we at "agree to disagree" time, or do you think there's more worth discussing here?
    This is the crux of the discussion, isn't it? That's what I was referring to earlier when I asked if Ron's "exporation squared" is essentially what we're talking about here.

    I definitely see "resonant fiction" in an ongoing dungeon crawl in the sense being discussed here, but it's a low priority - when it happens, it's great, but if it doesn't happen for a while (maybe even several sessions), we don't care, because we're focused on other things.

    I suppose you *could* have an old-school dungeon crawl with pretty much no "resonance" happening whatsoever (like this, somewhat ironically Lord of the Rings example, unless humour counts as "resonance"), so perhaps it is *possible*, and that's what matters for questions of theory (?).

  • Thoughts?
    Neat!!!

    Your five thing is a wonderful description of the masculine, honor/tradition bounded warrior type society which we can see a multiple times in history (Also, to me, this is very 300esque, and very close to what I refer to as 'epic' - but I'm aware that epic also means a lot of different things.)

    I will definitely use this PbtA principle wise!
  • edited January 4
    Here or another thread?
    Not here, please.

    My priority here is getting my own handle on how Jay's game works, and learning from that, and noodling around with potential design takeaways.

    Your feedback on my noodlings would be most welcome!

    If you want to start another thread on Right to Dream-related stuff, go for it. I might or might not jump in as time allows. I'll PM you.
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