Narrativism vs traditional techniques

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  • Ok. Thanks for the advice, I guess, Sandra, but I disagree with plenty of it. I'm currently GMing BW and can't imagine how a table might improve it more than brainstorming with the BITs in mind prior to the session, for example. In fact, I don't fully accept that principle of random generated content > improvised content, the whole thing seems an alien creature imposed over a game that doesn't fit into that school of GMing.
    I'll be GMing SwN some day, but again I don't buy that blorb somehow is the standard by which every GMed game must be judged. Seems to me like criticising D&D for not supporting story now play, like we somehow devolved into "these games must ALL do/have X, Y and Z, regardless of their goals", which is a very backwards mindset.
    Very true! However, in a Narrativist game, the desire for blorbiness would be *very low*, so it's unlikely to be a sticking point for anyone. (More to the point, if I'm running a Narrativist game, I'm not going to set up any false expectations of blorbiness.)
    Thanks.
    My experience with story now games is that they tend to be a bit weak while the scenario is being built, and pretty intense afterwards. Some players don't like those first sessions, other ones actively collaborate into it. As usual, it's not an agenda for everybody, the same way not everybody wants to play a sandbox.

    To comment on other things written in this thread, how'd a story now game behave if the scenario was created by the GM before even the PCs were, as Sandra prefers? In Torchbearer and BitD (is BitD story now?), I've found it works mostly alright, if the dungeon in the first case is used as a half painted canvas that's completed with BIG related content.
    For Apocalypse World or BW? Not so much, unless even the PCs are pre generated, and the players agree to play that scenario (like a one shot, for example).
  • Ok. Thanks for the advice, I guess, Sandra, but I disagree with plenty of it. I'm currently GMing BW and can't imagine how a table might improve it more than brainstorming with the BITs in mind prior to the session, for example. In fact, I don't fully accept that principle of random generated content > improvised content, the whole thing seems an alien creature imposed over a game that doesn't fit into that school of GMing.


    A HYPOTHETICAL

    Me and my Narrativist friend are playing D&D5E. I make a thief charlatan.

    I choose a few things from the charlatan TIBF list.

    Scam: I put on new identities like clothes.
    (T) I lie about almost everything, even where’s no good reason too.
    (I) I never target people who can’t afford to lose a few coins.
    (B) A powerful person killed someone I love, someday soon I’ll have my revenge.
    (F) I can’t resists a pretty face.

    Now that’s not great for Narrativist play. We need to tweak stuff before we start. We want a kicker/inciting incident. Related to the (B) seems strongest. So we’ll start by creating the powerful person and what the kicker is. We need to make it urgent, so let’s say it’s a Prince and I’ve learnt that he’s on a diplomatic mission for two weeks, somewhere close. He’ll be less well guarded than when he’s at his palace at home.

    That’s strong but now we need an actual personality. (T) is weak. No good reason? that’s bullshit. We need to rewrite. I lie about almost everything because if people knew the real me they would use it against me (people are mostly scum).

    That plays into the (I) in an interesting way as well. People might be mostly scum but I’m not.

    I also use my lies to get pretty people into bed with me. That says something interesting about how my character views sex and love. Oh, but my lover was killed (B), maybe he was the only person I could be honest with.

    So that sounds like a good character. We begin play, the GM has no prep.

    The starting situation is that I’m broke and I live in a large city

    Very first thing the GM asks:

    GM: What do you do?

    Player: I’m going to run a confidence game on one of the nobles. I need that money and I need it quick, to get my revenge. Yet they need to be able to loose a few coin. So I’m going to scout out my contacts, ask around, find someone I’d be comfortable conning out of their cash.

    GM: (notices a good opportunity for a roll) ok I’ll roll your trait in secret and record the result. (The GM rolls and it’s a failure. He decides the charlatan will find someone who appears they can lose a few coin, but on deeper inspection they can’t)

    At this point the player go back and forth describing the con and all that good stuff. It takes maybe a week to set up and we get to know the various characters more. Then this happens:

    GM as the Noble: I really hope this scheme works. It looks like I’ve got a lot of money but it’s all show really. My father spent the majority of the family fortune a decade ago.

    GM: What do you do?

    (just to spell it out. The thief is caught between two values and must now chose one. If he stops his con, then he’s lost his chance at the money and makes his revenge far harder.)

    A QUESTION

    In the above scenario the GM decided that the noble ‘couldn’t afford to lose a few coins’ as the result of a dice roll.

    If there had been no roll and the GM just decided it on the spur of the moment, would that matter?
  • Great example and question.
  • If there had been no roll and the GM just decided it on the spur of the moment, would that matter?
    Is it different? Yes. Would I want to be part of that game? No. Would a non-zero amount of Story-Games posters (that aren't me) accept being part of that game? Yes.
  • Sandra,

    I don't think it comes as a surprise to anyone reading that you like "blorb" techniques. The question at hand is: how would it change the game? Would it hurt it in some way, would it make it better, would it degrade it? Why would it be different, and why would that be meaningful to the participants?

    You wrote:
    I think narrativism is bullshit when used with traditional techniques.
    We're trying to figure out what you meant by that. If what you meant was, "I don't like gaming that's 'non-blorb'," then there's really nothing to discuss, any more than if I started a thread announcing that I really like cheddar cheese.

    Help us out?
  • I wholesale agree with Sandra about narrativism not working at all when used with traditional techniques. It makes for incoherent play.
  • edited May 2019
    I also want to get back to the Critical Role example, because I think it's highly relevant here. You seem to want to paint everything in terms of "good" and "bad", which makes it difficult to have these discussions, but I'd encourage you to get away from value judgements and just look at what's happening dispassionately. I'm not trying to saying anything is good or bad; just to formulate a good description of what's happening.

    It seems to me that Critical Role is a good exemplar, because you and I are both familiar with it, it can be referenced specifically (down to particular moments of play!), and Mercer has made videos explaining what he's doing. (Not in great depth, in my opinion, but there are some clues there as to how he's running the game.)

    You've said that "narrativism is bullshit when used with traditional techniques", and that, therefore, you only like it or accept it (?) in a game which is so obviously non-traditional that "blorb" qualities and techniques couldn't possibly be relevant (e.g. Fiasco is a single session game with no GM and no possibility for prep).

    I'd like to posit that some non-zero portion of Critical Role (and, arguably, many of the best/most memorable/touching moments) are Narrativist, or at least look similar enough to Narrativism that we can use them as an example.

    Clearly, I think:

    * At least some bits of play are hitting a potential Narrativist payoff.
    * The techniques of play, as well as the mechanics, are entirely traditional.
    * [Slightly more debatable] The game isn't being run according to "blorb" principles (or, at least, not to Sandra standards, nor mine).

    [EDIT: Replaced the character names from the below with made-up names to protect the spoiler-sensitive.]

    If we accept at least the two first premises above, can we imagine a version of Critical Role that is entirely focused on the sort of emotional payoff that occurs in premise-heavy moments? Where those high emotional stakes moments are the thing that all the participants are trying to create and pursue? "Gundarf defeats the Evil Duke, but doesn't kill his sister, giving her freedom and forgiveness despite her betrayal of the family"... or this quote from a commenter: "Each of those moments were emotional and powerful, but...this moment was beyond words. I couldn't agree more with Colville, Frobdug's decision was the climax of the story, and I was tearing up alongside Sam" - and THAT is why everyone involved in the game is coming to the table every week. It doesn't seem like a stretch to me.

    In that hypothetical game (I don't want to assume anything about how the players actually feel about their real, actual game), we would have a Narrativist agenda being pursued with entirely traditional techniques. All the participants seem to be enjoying every bit of it, as well. In what way would that be "bullshit"? Where would you see the breakdown (or potential breakdown)?

  • I think it's worth revisiting Ron Edwards' take on this, in the essay "Setting and Emergent Stories." The essence of the procedure that he suggests is to focus on a specific location within a broader setting, create characters who belong to and connect with that location, and let play be driven by the player 's efforts in response to the social, political, cultural, and similar tensions that matter to them. Arguably, he's suggesting that play begin where many traditional D&D games wind up: with characters embedded in a specific location, doing stuff that matters there.
  • Paul, I’m really uncomfortable ragging on Critical Role. Please drop that subthread. I’m just not gonna answer any Crit Role stuff. I’m also really really really really behind on episodes. I haven’t even made my way through that Stephen Colbert video yet. I’m gonna look at that panther fight for you. I just hate watching TV. It makes me really antsy.

    I always feel nervous af having even one person in our game room looking at our game. They play under the scrutiny of a million eyes. I have all the respect in the world for that.

    I wholesale agree with Sandra about narrativism not working at all when used with traditional techniques. It makes for incoherent play.

    That’s how I see it.

    I don’t think it comes as a surprise to anyone reading that you like “blorb” techniques. The question at hand is: how would it change the game? Would it hurt it in some way, would it make it better, would it degrade it? Why would it be different, and why would that be meaningful to the participants?

    It gives a sense of physics, consequence, reality, presence, blorbiness, tangibility, meaning, depth, and risk to the play.

    More immediately, it also increases buy-in.

    In the other thread, we also discussed having a PC death in my game today. A guy (a boar actually but a player character) got thrown down four flights of stairs (110 feet) by a Frankenstein. The layout of this part of the dungeon is very well established through our “larpy” mappign process and it’s a very well trodden & familiar part of the game. The enemy and his (“his” in this case, we have some frankie brides walking around too) stats also very well known to the point of most players at the table probably knowing all of his stats by heart. The “picking each other up and throwing each other down the stairs” rules also well established. All of this meant that the procedure & outcome was completely un-disputed. The situation was very “physical”.

    Some of this can be established “during play” in a non-blorby game. Increasing the blorby feel. And that’s something I’m really value when playing non-traditional games like Final Girl too; we were playing at a hotel that was improvised but the more we moved around that hotel the more “real” it started feeling.

    A lot of us have, when improvising, experienced players becoming disappointed when they found out a particular element was improvised. Why do you think that is, Paul?

    any more than if I started a thread announcing that I really like cheddar cheese.

    On a cheese-forum, or for that matter, on a vegan forum, that statement might be very meaningful.

    Heck the Forge wouldn’t even exist if it weren’t for someone at some point saying I really like story.

    Well, I think blorb integrity is a very valuable & fragile part of some roleplaying games.

  • Paul: also please stop posting spoilers for Critical Role.
  • If there had been no roll and the GM just decided it on the spur of the moment, would that matter?
    Is it different? Yes. Would I want to be part of that game? No. Would a non-zero amount of Story-Games posters (that aren't me) accept being part of that game? Yes.
    Would you play in the version of the game that did have the dice roll?

    I’d prefer the version with the roll, but me and you (2097) have been agreeing a bit too much and I’m trying to find the fault lines.
  • Who are you asking?
  • I'm asking 2097, but anyone can answer.
  • Would you play in the version of the game that did have the dice roll?
    I'd love it & it sounds like a really really good game.
    I’d prefer the version with the roll, but me and you (2097) have been agreeing a bit too much and I’m trying to find the fault lines.
    Maybe we just like the same kind of game. That can happen.♥
  • A question for the Narrativists that have read my hypothetical. Given that you don’t need to use any dice to get a nice dramatic decision point. Why do you use dice? Why not just have the GM constantly describe outcomes that lead to the most intense and dramatic situations?
  • So in this 2×2 matrix:

    fully blorbyless than 100% blorb
    completely alien presentationsparedspared
    traditional mappingssparedoff with head!

    I’m letting three out of four game types off the hook♥ #generous2097 #cruella

  • Sandra,

    I don't really understand your issue with discussing Critical Role - I have no interest in judging anything as good or bad here, so I have no idea why you think I'm expecting you to "rag on Critical Role".

    It's just a perfect and well-known example of what you started this thread by saying it was 'bullshit', and you still haven't said why or how. Can we imagine a game that's very much *like* Critical Role, but with different people involved and, perhaps, more clarity on the Narrativist angle, and discuss that? It really isn't about the specifics of Critical Role, but about the exemplar of a game run with traditional techniques which could pursue a Narrativist agenda, which you seem to be really against but refuse to tell us why or how it could be a problem.

    I'll edit out the spoilers, though; that's a good idea.

    As for the Colbert video, it has nothing to do with this thread, but I'll make it easy for you - I think you'll find it interesting example for your "remapping" interest - watch from 15:00 exactly to 18:00. I brought it up there specifically because the example is so short, and I had fun reenvisioning it with our "HP spend" and "players roll to defend" ideas (which I think would be a major improvement).

    On blorb (though you're not answering my questions at all on this point):

    It gives a sense of physics, consequence, reality, presence, blorbiness, tangibility, meaning, depth, and risk to the play.

    More immediately, it also increases buy-in.
    Great! I agree with all of that to a large extent.

    Why would these qualities be BAD for a Narrativist game?
  • edited May 2019
    Great! I agree with all of that to a large extent.

    Why would these qualities be BAD for a Narrativist game?
    They are awesome for a narrativist game.

    That's why I'm encouraging narrativists to go blorb but if they do, to go wholly blorb or else they'll have incoherence.

    If addressing the premise is your NUMBER ONE GOAL then you might run in into trouble if that makes you want to compromise blorb. (Stair running analogy.)

    If addressing the premise GIVEN THE CONSTRAINTS OF BLORBINESS, given the physicality, given the consequence engine, given the gloracle, is your goal then you're bang on target pal
  • edited May 2019
    Oh yes, this begins to look like the more general "constructive seriousness" : once something is posited, it will be used consistently.
    I don't see the priorities though. Exploring a theme while keeping within a certain aesthetical horizon are never antagonist. One is like a force (function), the other like a form (structure).
    Blorb is just another aesthetic frame for me. What makes it different from, say, realism ? Or maybe you mean not aesthetic realism (a story in a world where harm hurts and don't forget people work, too). In any case, it's not ontological realism (the things in play don't really exist by themselves outside of our imagination). But maybe @2097 you'd like that it it should be possible to believe that the mirror could be real / is real in some other way. Something like that ? Neglect that if it's too far away from your point.
  • edited May 2019
    A question for the Narrativists that have read my hypothetical. Given that you don’t need to use any dice to get a nice dramatic decision point. Why do you use dice? Why not just have the GM constantly describe outcomes that lead to the most intense and dramatic situations?
    I really think it's a question of taste, both in play and in design.

    The short version is that sometimes you want the dramatic outcome to be a certainty, whereas sometimes there are two or more dramatic outcomes possible, so it can fun to have a way to decide between them. Each game design (and I'm including GM tools like this in the idea of the "System" operating at the table) will make different choices and prioritize different things.

    In Narrativism-supporting designs, in particular, the dice are often used to create opportunities for the players to pursue their characters' goals (and to prevent other players, like the GM, from simply refusing those). In AW, for instance, the design of the moves allows for a chance of success in various fictional situations that a bad GM might otherwise refuse; the effects of that on long-term play are quite dramatic.

    I remember many years ago someone asked if it was even possible to write a Narrativist "adventure", since the story was supposed to evolve in play. (At that point in time, there was no "OSR movement", and so pretty much all the "written adventures" people we familiar with had a linear progression from one scene to the next - that was the state of the art and the industry standard.)

    So, how would you make a Narrativist scenario, without pre-determining what the story would be?

    No one had done that yet, so someone decided to step and produce an example. I believe it was called "Well of Souls", and it was formatted as a relationship map, with each NPC having different desires and goals. There were two important nobles who could have been responsible for a death (I think it was a death; something significant and dramatic, anyway) at the heart of the scenario.

    The GM was instructed to follow the flow of play and see what was going on, and then react accordingly by having her NPCs act and react to developing events: "once the game starts, simply play your NPCs!"

    Then the scenario did something really weird: it didn't tell you which of the two was responsible.

    I thought this was incredibly bizarre. What's the point of writing a detailed, in-depth scenario, and then leaving out the most important piece?!? It was so jarring.

    They then explained that, as you played, you could eventually reveal that whichever of the two was the most interesting/emotionally nuanced character was responsible for the murder.

    This was a new and very different approach to prepping for a game I'd never encountered before. It's a very interesting technique!

    It was quite a mind-expanding exercise to try to wrap my mind around this "heretical" approach to prepping a scenario.

    I generally prefer to have things settled beforehand (a la blorb), but sometimes this can be just the ticket (e.g. I determine that someone is poisoning the well in the village in session 1 - maybe because a player authored that detail, and we'll figure out who did it later, in prep for session 4).

    In any case, I would never simply write off such a tool, instead adding it to my bag of tricks: for some people, it might be just the thing they prefer. For some game designs, it may be just the thing (because it's a one shot and no one preps). For some play situations, it might be perfect. And if some people out there are having fun playing with such a tool, who am I to tell them that they're doing it wrong? That makes no sense to me. Unlike, say, railroading, I see no bad social ramifications or broken promises nor the potential to ruin the game in any way.

    Some game designs will demand this in places, as well. Particularly in games where authorship is distributed in various ways (whether subtly or not soo subtly), it is either impossible or undesirable to prep particular material. Likewise, in other designs, the room to prep something explicitly might be *right there*, despite the other features of the game:

    As the opposite experience, we recently played Witch. That game is heavily improvised and collaborative, GMless, with no 'traditional' techniques at all. However, the player of the Witch is instructed to write down the guilt or innocence of the Witch at the beginning of the story and then to seal their choice in an envelope.

    At the end of the game, the envelope is opened and we find out the truth. That, in turn, informs the endgame and the eventual fates of the characters. It's a lovely use of a "blorb" technique in one of the least "blorby" games ever written! And it works perfectly in that context; take that away and Witch would be a far poorer game.

    I'm all for experimenting with such hybrids and crossovers and picking the tool you need at the right time.
    I wholesale agree with Sandra about narrativism not working at all when used with traditional techniques. It makes for incoherent play.
    I think that playing in a Narrativist style with entirely traditional techniques can be really difficult, awkward, and can very easily produce incoherent play. You're absolutely right.

    However, to say that it "doesnt' work at all" or never works is foolish; you'd have to conclude that Narrativist play didn't exist at all until 10 or 15 years ago.

    This is a silly proposition, since people have doing it since the inception of the hobby (and the concept of Narrativism was invented to describe a kind of play they were already doing, not some hypothetical thing to try in the future).

    More importantly, that ignores the reality of the matter, which is that there is a spectrum of techniques and application such that any game can have a mixture of traditional and non-traditional techniques; Sandra's game has Hillfolk mechanics in it, Deliverator's D&D game includes story game-like 'TIBFs' and Dungeon World-derived XP mechanics, etc, etc. This conversation started in the first placebecause Sandra was explaining her disinterest or dislike for Sorcerer, due to its traditional design. That game is clearly non-traditional enough that it got labeled a "story game" when it was written by many, though! (I also dislike some overly traditional aspects of Sorcerer, but I would never say it's "bullshit" or "makes for incoherent play" when so many people have had tremendously enjoyable play with those rules (see the links I posted in the "things to read on Story Games thread"; and a bunch of us here on Story Games just played Sorcerer for the first time last year and had a great time with it.)
  • edited May 2019

    They are awesome for a narrativist game.

    That's why I'm encouraging narrativists to go blorb but if they do, to go wholly blorb or else they'll have incoherence.

    If addressing the premise is your NUMBER ONE GOAL then you might run in into trouble if that makes you want to compromise blorb. (Stair running analogy.)

    If addressing the premise GIVEN THE CONSTRAINTS OF BLORBINESS, given the physicality, given the consequence engine, given the gloracle, is your goal then you're bang on target pal
    This confuses me a great deal. I don't understand how you can make all those statements in the same post. To the point of being completely lost, frankly.

    Are Narrativism and "blorb" opposites in your mind, and mutually exclusive?

    If so, you're asking "Narrativists" to stop playing the way they like and to switch to a different playstyle (since going "full blorb" is going to replace their primary creative goal).

    If they are not opposites, but, instead, can support each other, then why this thread? Isn't your whole point that they are incompatible here ("bullshit", more specifically)?

    (Or are you separating "blorb" and "traditional techniques" into completely different corners, and expecting "Narrativists" to adopt blorb but stay away from "traditional techniques"? That sounds odd, as well.)


    EDIT: Rereading your post, it makes a little more sense than it did at first. However, there is still the issue that the very definition of "Narrativist" is that "addressing premise is YOUR NUMBER ONE GOAL", and your advice to that person is make it no longer your number one goal. :) I'm not sure what to do with that, nor have you explained why there might be incoherence if they do so. I've played dozens of games where this happens consciously, and it's never ruined anything ("Hey, did you say that Dante was his cousin?" "No, I don't think so." "But it would totally make sense, and improve the dramatic stakes. Can we say that Dante was his cousin all along, retcon that?" "Sure!"). I'd never do that in a "full blorb" game, unless it was irrelevant to the creative goals of play (like "wallpaper" in your analogy).
  • I think it's worth revisiting Ron Edwards' take on this, in the essay "Setting and Emergent Stories." The essence of the procedure that he suggests is to focus on a specific location within a broader setting, create characters who belong to and connect with that location, and let play be driven by the player 's efforts in response to the social, political, cultural, and similar tensions that matter to them. Arguably, he's suggesting that play begin where many traditional D&D games wind up: with characters embedded in a specific location, doing stuff that matters there.
    Yeah, that's a great example of how solid prep and the address of premise can support each other.

    I think something like Critical Role showcases at least some aspects of that really well.
    A question for the Narrativists that have read my hypothetical. Given that you don’t need to use any dice to get a nice dramatic decision point. Why do you use dice? Why not just have the GM constantly describe outcomes that lead to the most intense and dramatic situations?
    Alexander, are you familiar with Apocalypse World?

    It's a good thought experiment here (which I've actually seen some OSR devotees engage in!):

    What if the choices made under the umbrella of any given move were randomized, instead of chosen by the player?

    There are many, many situations in AW where you're asked to choose from a list. How would the game be different if, in every one of those cases, you rolled, instead?

    Consider that in the MC's choice of moves. Consider that when picking from lists for character creation. Consider that when "choosing 2" from a player-facing move. Consider that for deciding which Front to introduce. Consider that for scene framing.

    I think looking at it this way opens one up to possibilities for both play and design (and shows us how and why we might pick one in one circumstance and another in a different place).
  • edited May 2019
    Oh yes, this begins to look like the more general “constructive seriousness” : once something is posited, it will be used consistently.
    I don’t see the priorities though. Exploring a theme while keeping within a certain aesthetical horizon are never antagonist. One is like a force (function), the other like a form (structure).
    Blorb is just another aesthetic frame for me.

    Aesthetic frames are cool; just like a sestina is different from a limerick or just like an ink lineart drawing is different from a water color painting.

    But that’s not really what’s going on here. I don’t mind compromising aesthetic frames; I do software that produce fake ink drawings & fake watercolor drawings, because I like the look and the nostalgia adds to the semantics of the piece. (The medium is the message etc.)

    The analogy I like better is if you’re gonna do a pencil drawing [blorb] of a couple of flowers in a vase [narr] you need to be mindful when drawing so you don’t poke your pencil through the paper, ruining it. Something you don’t have to worry about when you take a photo of those flowers [use alien techniques for your narr game].

    What makes it different from, say, realism ? Or maybe you mean not aesthetic realism (a story in a world where harm hurts and don’t forget people work, too). In any case, it’s not ontological realism (the things in play don’t really exist by themselves outside of our imagination). But maybe @2097 you’d like that it it should be possible to believe that the mirror could be real / is real in some other way. Something like that ? Neglect that if it’s too far away from your point.

    Maybe that’s a tangential topic. But yeah, the ontological “realness” is definitely a big kick and a big reason for my love of blorb.

    The GM was instructed to follow the flow of play and see what was going on, and then react accordingly by having her NPCs act and react to developing events: “once the game starts, simply play your NPCs!”

    Then the scenario did something really weird: it didn’t tell you which of the two was responsible.[…]They then explained that, as you played, you could eventually reveal that whichever of the two was the most interesting/emotionally nuanced character was responsible for the murder.

    This is exactly the type of bullshit I want to put the kibosh on.

    Are Narrativism and “blorb” opposites in your mind, and mutually exclusive?

    No. Not anymore than putting mittens on is an “opposite” of running down the stairs.

    If so, you’re asking “Narrativists” to stop playing the way they like and to switch to a different playstyle (since going “full blorb” is going to replace their primary creative goal).

    If they are not opposites, but, instead, can support each other, then why this thread? Isn’t your whole point that they are incompatible here (“bullshit”, more specifically)?

    If you’re gonna run down the stairs [do blorb] while putting on mittens [do narr] you can’t be sloppy about the running down the stairs or else you’ll fall & hurt yourself [mess up the integrity of the game].

    Missing a couple of beats in the mittens-pulling-on activity is fine. They’ll be on by the time you’re at ground floor. Just be careful about the stair-running. It’s an everyday activity, easy when done on its own, but it can become challenging if you’re also doing other stuff.

    Or are you separating “blorb” and “traditional techniques” into completely different corners, and expecting “Narrativists” to adopt blorb but stay away from “traditional techniques”? That sounds odd, as well.

    The whole idea of “traditional technique” was a phrase that the PM asker used.

    There are unblorby games that use traditional techiques. That is very very common. In fact, I’d guess it’s more common that a game that uses traditional techniques is unblorby than wholly blorby. These traditional technique unblorby games are called 90s games in my parlance, even though they’ve been around since the seventies I guess. I hate those games.

    Using traditional techniques without blorb is something that is bad, wrong, fun, etc. I can’t really do anything about them except

    1. express my distaste for these 90s games
    2. try to teach how to do blorb more easily—the last thing I want is for people to get scared away from doing blorb because it looks too difficult
    3. ban these 90s games once the mole cult has made me queen of the surface world

    (I haven’t mentioned why but here is one reason: traditional techniques, by their trappings&tropes, set up expectation that there might be blorb.)

    However, there is still the issue that the very definition of “Narrativist” is that “addressing premise is YOUR NUMBER ONE GOAL”, and your advice to that person is make it no longer your number one goal. :)

    That’s right. If your number one goal is to go to the movie theatre to see Star Wars, and you’re going there by bike, then my advice to you is to make riding the bike responsibly, with awareness, common sense, knowledge of traffic regulations etc into your number one goal instead, and to bump seeing Star Wars at the theatre down to second place.

    If you want to keep seeing Star Wars at the theatre your number one goal, maybe don’t get on that bike. Instead use some completely alien (much safer) technique like hopping onto a UFO. I.o.w. play something like Nerver av stål or Lovecraftesque.

  • "But 2097", you might ask, "isn't bumping down the premise-addressing down to second [or lower] place, valuing it less than the integrity of blorb, isn't that just your personal preference? Are your really saying that blorb should be a universal priority of all who use traditional techniques&trappings?"

    Yes.
    All must comply.

    All movies should have aspect ratios (even Kill Bill which uses multiple aspect ratios has at least a none-zero amount of them),
    all novels should have words (even Edward Gorey's The West Wing has words, the title)
    all traditional roleplaying games should be wholly blorby.

    It should become considered foundational to the medium itself.
  • As an example of coherent play.... Emma, you told us that when you were doing a 90s style game, you were reading the module text together to keep everyone on the rails.

    In other words, introducing an alien technique in order to remove blorb-expectations from the participants. Good idea.
  • We weren't reading the modules because we weren't using modules, but we were all on the same page about the scenario. The GM's prep was shared completely with the group, to make sure that everyone knew what they needed to do, and make sure they were opting in. Also, to make sure that the GM had prepped the right content for the characters, since we've always played in a deeply character-focused style.

    I guess that's sort of the same thing as reading modules; it's just a module written by the GM instead of a published one. Does that count as a module? I might just be overthinking terminology.
  • Thanks for the clarification. It amounts to the same thing even though the specific word "module" isn't appropriate (I agree that it isn't); shall I edit my post?
  • No worries; I think it's fine! It's basically the same thing in a way. It's just a difference of who the author is, you know? :)
  • Yeah, I've accidentally call homebrew scenarios "modules" often
  • I also find it kind of interesting to think about how much the way we used to do that is somewhat still intact in our scene framing. The whole thing of one participant telling the others what they do in the scene, what they need from them to tell the story of the scene. It's just players giving directions to each other with in-depth collaboration on the initial rails rather than a GM giving the directions and writing the rails herself.
  • What we did for Corsair Council, which was a game with drama goals but that tried to be wholly blorby (using D&D as a physics layer including the super complicated weather tables from AD&D 2e with the Golden Voyages expansion), was that we would take turns (the Hillfolk scene structure) and the DM (me, that is) would ask that player who they were with. Who did they go to see? And usually it was reasonable for them to go see them in that place, or the first couple of places they looked. I.e. if you know someone went home to sleep last night, usually you can find them in their own place the next morning. If they weren't there they paid a token to "duck the scene" as per Hillfolk p 23.
  • "But 2097", you might ask, [...] "isn't that just your personal preference? Are your really saying that blorb should be a universal priority of all who use traditional techniques&trappings?"

    Yes.
    All must comply.

    [...]

    It should become considered foundational to the medium itself.
    Oh, wow! So you really believe in the concept of BadWrongFun, and that some styles of play are simply superior, and everyone should adopt them?

    Fascinating.

    We’ll have to agree to disagree there; I don’t really see any productive or positive outcome coming from such an attitude.

    No point engaging in that any further. (No problem, really! But it’s such a fundamental disagreement that I don’t have any more to say. It’s the road to flame wars and people yelling at each other on the internet, and there’s enough of that as it is. Besides, it would be ludicrous for the two of us to engage in it, since I’m quite fond of blorby play.)

    What you have consistently failed to do, though, that might be helpful or interesting, is to explain any kind of *why*. (And maybe there isn’t one, beyond personal preference?)

    If I want to play in a game where significant facts (like the identity of a murderer, say) can get decided later in play, rather than being prepped beforehand, and we agree to play that way together, and we have a good time, what’s the problem? Is there some design issue, or this is all just a form of fetishizing or worship of a particular play technique, regardless of the facts, so to speak?

    Do you actually think playing in a non-blorby way will hurt those people somehow? Or do you just wish they would “get it”, because clearly they just don’t understand the glorious fun (that is, your preferred fun) they could be having instead?

    Like saying that pizza should never be made without tomato sauce, because that’s just worse than pizza with tomato sauce?



  • edited May 2019
    Unless I'm misunderstanding, Sandra isn't at all saying that blorb is better than everything and that games where significant facts can get decided later in play. She's saying that there are techniques that fit with blorb, and techniques that fit with other stuff, and techniques that are mutually exclusive, and that trying to shoehorn incompatible techniques into a playstyle can only lead to unpleasantness.
    What she's saying is that a game that has significant facts decided in play isn't compatible with the techniques of blorb, and that trying to use them will only cause you issues. She's saying that it's important to commit to a playstyle to prevent incoherence instead of trying to tack on things that are unrelated to that playstyle but that you choose to add on for goddess knows what reason.

    I mean, I feel like it's important to note here that I play in a style that's about as far from blorb as you can possibly get, and Sandra and I are completely on the same page here.
  • You can have one fact or category of facts blorby firm and other facts not colour, changing around. For instance, the murderer and MO are established, and the motive is moving. Great discovery great narrativism. Hyper realism too : do people know why they do things ? The motive is NOT colour. Our mental experiences mean something and the game is obviously about that.
    That's my tentative counter example.
  • We’ll have to agree to disagree there […] No point engaging in that any further. [… followed by more questions…]

    :bawling:

    What you have consistently failed to do, though, that might be helpful or interesting, is to explain any kind of why. (And maybe there isn’t one, beyond personal preference?)

    Failed to d…? Paul, I haven’t had a change to get to that yet because that wasn’t the original question and it took so long for you to understand what my fundamental position was. You kept strawdolling me or misundertanding my position that I had to be very focused on trying to get those basic pieces into play. Now we can get started on the why.

    A first sketch on as far as “why” is concerned:

    1. Traditional techniques set up blorby expectations. Going against those expectations can be almost akin to cheating in the chess game example.
    2. Blorby play is almost magical in how it can take you to another world and make that world real. That is valuable.
    3. Blorby play is fragile, often misunderstood, often compromised, often cheated, often hurt. I want to stand up for blorb & teach blorb & promote blorb & protect blorb.

    If I want to play in a game where significant facts (like the identity of a murderer, say) can get decided later in play, rather than being prepped beforehand, and we agree to play that way together, and we have a good time, what’s the problem? Is there some design issue, or this is all just a form of fetishizing or worship of a particular play technique, regardless of the facts, so to speak?

    It’s both that I worship blorb and that there is a fundamental design issue in how poorly non-blorby trad games work. Damned 90s games! I feel like I have two wasted decades of gaming because blorb was kept from me from the illusionist GM advice chapters in crappy 90s games!

    As Emma explains:

    What she’s saying is that a game that has significant facts decided in play isn’t compatible with the techniques of blorb, and that trying to use them will only cause you issues. She’s saying that it’s important to commit to a playstyle to prevent incoherence instead of trying to tack on things that are unrelated to that playstyle but that you choose to add on for goddess knows what reason.

    I mean, I feel like it’s important to note here that I play in a style that’s about as far from blorb as you can possibly get, and Sandra and I are completely on the same page here.

    Thank you Emma.

    Do you actually think playing in a non-blorby way will hurt those people somehow? Or do you just wish they would “get it”, because clearly they just don’t understand the glorious fun (that is, your preferred fun) they could be having instead?

    What is the difference? The second is a more specific way of expressing the former.

    Like saying that pizza should never be made without tomato sauce, because that’s just worse than pizza with tomato sauce?

    In this food analogy, do you believe all dishes are ships of Theseus? A pizza bianca is fine (just bread, olive oil, rosemary and garlic) but you need bread. Sitting around on the couch taking bites directly out of a big block of cheese is not pizza.

    And again, just to remind you, Paul: I really really like narrative games that are strongly distinguishable from blorb.

  • edited May 2019
    You can have one fact or category of facts blorby firm and other facts not colour, changing around. For instance, the murderer and MO are established, and the motive is moving. Great discovery great narrativism. Hyper realism too : do people know why they do things ? The motive is NOT colour. Our mental experiences mean something and the game is obviously about that.
    A great example of something I would put the kibosh on!

    Edit: to clarify what I would do: I've ran games where the motive has been color (wallpaper saliency principle) and I've ran games where the motive has been vital (tier one or tier two truth—I've played with a random motive table).
  • Paul, is your position here (defending non-blorby trad play even though you are fond of blorby play) some sorta variant on Tallentyre's "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it"?

    "I disapprove of how you play but I will defend to the death of blorb your right to play it?"

    But I love blorb, how can I even accept the death of blorb?
  • As far as I know I am not queen of the surface world (yet) so I can't do anything about this. But as game critics, researchers, designers… we are allowed to— or rather, it's our duty to—speak out when something has serious issues.
  • A question for the Narrativists that have read my hypothetical. Given that you don’t need to use any dice to get a nice dramatic decision point. Why do you use dice? Why not just have the GM constantly describe outcomes that lead to the most intense and dramatic situations?
    You're conflating 2 different things and making them look like they're the same. I've been mostly talking about tables and randomness to generate setting content. I think that's fine, but by no means a priority for every game. Using dice for conflict resolution is another thing, which I also like. Some narr games don't use it, but I mostly like some randomness when it comes to conflicts. The potential I see in it is that sometimes players just want their characters to solve a conflict the easiest way possible (avoiding a dilemma or hard choice, for example). Here, the dice bring the setting and genre constraints that lead to some hard choices on behalf of the player. Externalizing this to dice makes it easier for me, the GM, and less predictable. Sometimes characters will actually avoid making a hard choice and just, I don't know, start the revolution without spilling blood.

    Regarding your example, I don't know what that "roll a trait" means in D&D5th. But in my mind, your example is conflict resolution with an explicit intent stated by the player, which means I would never resolve it by rolling on a random table. In BW, I'd have him roll Circles to find a suitable noble to be conned, a roll where the player gets full use of their resources to affect the outcome, unlike a random table.

    Imagine the player just said this, you go on and roll on a table to generate the noble, and find out he's deeply in debt. Why have you presented him an NPC that's useless to his purposes? Why don't the PC social skills factor in the noble he'll get to con? Will he have to skip that noble for you to keep rolling on that table until he finds someone suitable? For me, a Circles roll summarizes that whole process in a way where the result is relevant to the intent the player has, in a way that's connected to the PC skills rather than fully random.

    As a side note, I'd make the roll in the open. I don't see the value in hiding a roll from the player, but that's just me.
  • edited May 2019
    Unless I'm misunderstanding, Sandra isn't at all saying that blorb is better than everything and that games where significant facts can get decided later in play. She's saying that there are techniques that fit with blorb, and techniques that fit with other stuff, and techniques that are mutually exclusive, and that trying to shoehorn incompatible techniques into a playstyle can only lead to unpleasantness.
    What she's saying is that a game that has significant facts decided in play isn't compatible with the techniques of blorb, and that trying to use them will only cause you issues. She's saying that it's important to commit to a playstyle to prevent incoherence instead of trying to tack on things that are unrelated to that playstyle but that you choose to add on for goddess knows what reason.
    What I've been reading is that she states that every game with a GM should be blorby because she says so, and that games like BW or AW, which never in their book mention "blorb" or anything related, don't work as Story now games because having a GM produced incoherent play, unlike other, non traditional narr games like Fiasco (which is not a story now game, so my impression here is that all this thread is about misunderstanding what story now actually is).
    So, to summarize, Where in those games an adherence to blorb is stated, and if it isn't, how is it justified? Or, to take it further, why every game with GM has to be blorby? Why can't players deal with a hybrid distribution of responsibilities, like they have for almost a decade or more?
    I'd actually root this discussion in actual play examples where these games supposedly produce incoherent play, rather than keep it in the air, because I just can't see the consequences of unblorbiness and I need concrete examples.
    all traditional roleplaying games should be wholly blorby.
    This needs to be proved first. It can't just be stated.
  • I'm reading the word "blorb" as meaning something like what some OSR gamers call "world in motion." The idea is that an internally consistent and causally coherent in-game universe is presented to players, who are thereby able to more easily imagine that the game-world has an independent existence. A concomitant of this is the precept that the GM is the medium through which information about the world is transmitted to players. What I hear Sandra calling for is a commitment on the part of the GM to devise information about the world in line with a scheme that privileges pre-planned info, masks the character of procedurally generated info, and deprecates the value of off-the-cuff invention. The benefit of this approach, as far as I can tell, has to do with the coherence of the fictional setting. This seems in Forge terms to be pure Right to Dream of Setting/System--where the setting and the system are really intertwined. It's an interesting approach; I wonder about the role or function of the player in it.

  • I wonder about the role or function of the player in it.
    Stress testers, obviously :D
  • Bill,

    In Forge terms, a “blorby” approach allows the GM to act as much as possible as an objective referee, adjudicating impartially and having a clean, repeatable and unbiased process for establishing the facts of the world/adventure/environment. This means relying on objective techniques which take the GM’s judgment out of those decisions. (This is, obviously to me, an impossible goal, but striving towards can make a big difference in play style.)

    When the GM is operating in this way, it frees up the players to pursue a Step On Up agenda against the backdrop of established facts and impartial adjudication. If you make a plan to use a magic mirror to trap a demon, it works because you correctly ascertained the function of the mirror (because it was objectively determined and/or prepped), making the success of your plan based on your luck or ingenuity, not the subjective judgment of the GM. That makes for real loss and victory conditions in a way that a GM deciding which it was after the fact simply does not.
  • That makes sense, Paul. Thanks. So "blorb" operates at a purely technical level (that is, at the level of "Technique") to enable players to Step On Up? Nobody gets a charge from seeing the gloracular Machine in operation?
  • edited May 2019
    Khimus nails my perspective on this pretty well:
    all traditional roleplaying games should be wholly blorby.
    This needs to be proved first. It can't just be stated.
    Exactly right.

    Here's an example case:

    Critical Role is a fun and popular game enjoyed by thousands of people, both players and audience members.

    It is also very clearly not blorby (at least not by your standards or mine, Sandra).

    It would be the height of arrogance for us to overlook the people enjoying it and claim that it is inferior and that it should be changed.

    Or, we'd have to prove why it's not really as fun as it seems in some way. That's a major hill to climb!

    "I disapprove of how you play but I will defend to the death of blorb your right to play it?"

    But I love blorb, how can I even accept the death of blorb?
    Basically, yes.

    There is no need for blorb to “die”! You already acknowledge that there are playstyles which do not involve blorb, just like there are pizzas without tomato sauce: there’s no contradiction there!

    In addition, there is or more point of difference:

    In play with a Narrativist priority, there is no need for strict blorb. It is, by definition, not the priority. Some blorbiness can be really nice, but it doesn’t make or break the game.

    (To show otherwise, you’d have to come with an example of how a failure to use blorb methods in a Narrativist game led to problems and people failing to address premise and enjoy themselves. That’s what would begin to convince me there’s something to talk about - until then, we’re just talking about we like or dislike.)

    There are also significant advantages to non-blorby play, which are sometimes desirable for just about any game style. (E.g. witness the popularity and success of something like Lady Blackbird.)

  • That makes sense, Paul. Thanks. So "blorb" operates at a purely technical level (that is, at the level of "Technique") to enable players to Step On Up? Nobody gets a charge from seeing the gloracular Machine in operation?
    Exactly. (Sandra will undoubtedly say that she "gets a charge" from seeing the gloracle in operation, but I'm quite confident that's not the actual creative payoff of the game - or, even it was for Sandra, it wouldn't be for other people using the same techniques - we've had lots and lots of conversations about that earlier and even ran a bit of a Story Games online campaign using those techniques. In theory, "blorb" can be used as a technique in any mode of play, but, in practice, it's most often used to facilitate a Step On Up agenda, which is why it needs to be adhered to *strictly* - as you can imagine, given a different creative agenda, there wouldn't likely be any need for it to be so strict.)

    I can imagine a group purely enjoying the "gloracular Machine in operation" as their main creative goal, but I doubt very many people do. Sandra's game uses D&D adventure modules, for example, as a large component of play - it wouldn't make much sense to do that in a game which is purely interested in Exploration of that sort, I think.
  • That makes sense, Paul. Thanks. So "blorb" operates at a purely technical level (that is, at the level of "Technique") to enable players to Step On Up? Nobody gets a charge from seeing the gloracular Machine in operation?
    Some people do. Sandra mentioned earlier that she does, and I think my own preferences overlap quite a lot with a kind of pure respect for blorb, particularly in games where the gloracle is an unwieldy, caterwauling behemoth constantly threatening to careen off a cliff.

    There's a certain subset of rules lawyers and min-maxers (I think) who aren't really looking to game the setting in order to win, or at least for whom Stepping On Up is secondary to simply plunging into the depths of the system to see just how far it can go (for example, it's unlikely you will ever use a Great Cleave "teleport" to actually circumvent a challenge; it's just fun to imagine the wave of gore that follows in your wake as you break the sound barrier). These players are more like Johnnys in Magic the Gathering parlance, who use the game as a vehicle of "creative expression." It's just that most games that have a lot of support for this also happen to be firmly Step On Up. I suspect a lot of people who prefer GMing these sorts of games also have a lot of overlap with this profile.

    I've personally taken to calling this style of play Mousetrapping, after the Milton Bradley boardgame where watching the game's Rube Goldberg device namesake in action is by almost any measure far more interesting than actually "playing" the game. It's not exactly the same as pure, unsullied blorb-love but it heavily relies on the precepts of blorb.
  • So @Khimus I've got an actual play example from when I was running a one shot of Monster of the Week for strangers at the mall yesterday. I realize I already complained about MotW in this thread, but I think the situation I'm describing could have come up in an Apocalypse World game as well. I'm not a master class GM so there might be other issues going on here (and I'm totally interested in suggestions), but I felt like there were some competing expectations that came from having "harm" as part of the system. If it feels nitpicky and weird I'm sorry.

    One of my guiding principles when I run anything non-blorby (which is pretty frequent) actually comes from the introduction of Dogs in the Vineyard:
    [...] if you're the GM, feel free to tell the players things their character's can't know. "You cut out across the field towards the smoldering wagon. There's a gang of robbers hiding in the grass and behind a couple of nearby trees. You haven't seen them yet. What do you do?"
    That was a big deal for me when I first read it, and I use it a lot when running Trollbabe even though examples in that text explicitly contradict it. Without it I feel like players decisions for there characters have less impact because I have too much power to effect the stakes after they've already made a decision.

    Ok here's the background for the example: The monster hunters are at a teenage dance party in the woods where they have just started playing a CD that turns anyone who listens to it into a demon possessed serial killer. Kai (a PC who is half fae) and her cousin Erris (NPC who is fully fae) run up through the crowd to the stage just as everyone is turning into psycho killers. Kai gets caught up in a fight before she gets to the stage but Erris actually makes it up onto the stage and grabs the disk. Just as she gets the disk though, Joel (her boyfriend now possessed by demon music) grabs her and is about to stab her with a knife so she throws the disk to Kai (the actual PC) who runs to try and catch it. Across the field Earnest (another PC who is Erris' ex lover) levels his gun and tries to shoot Joel before he can stab Erris.

    Ok here's the part that got a little weird: So I had set up this Joel is about to stab Erris situation which I guess was a soft move. The PC Earnest wants to shoot Joel both because he's trying to save Erris and also because he really hates Joel. I decide this sounds more like Act Under Pressure rather than Kick Some Ass. Earnest get's a 7-9 result which means "the Keeper is going to give you a worse outcome, a hard choice, or price to pay." I tell Earnest's player that if he shoots he will hit Joel but the bullet is going to hit Erris too. We can argue about whether that was a good "price to pay" or not but it's what I chose. Earnest decides to pull the trigger, there's a bang, and Joel and Erris fall off the stage.

    Now the problem: The phrase "the bullet is going to hit Erris too" feels like it should have an established meaning in the game because we have this harm system, but as Earnest is walking over to Erris I still have no idea whether she's A. basically fine (she's fae after all) B. in dangerous condition C. dead. I know I can't pick C. because part of Joel's declared intent was to save her. But about the other two? Monster of the Week just tells me pick whichever one sounds better (bottom of pg. 213). I'm not saying there's anything wrong with making the decision on those terms, but it also means I should have made that decision earlier and told Earnest's player what the stakes were before he pulled the trigger. And maybe that's where this example ends since I've clearly identified my mistake. But at the same I'm just wondering if the system could have helped me more here. For the record I picked B. which in retrospect feels like both the worst narrative decision (Erris is probably already mad at Earnest for shooting her even if she's more or less uninjured, and that's a more interesting consequence to me) and also the most like I'm playing "gotcha" with the players. It was the end of a very long session with no breaks so we all just went and got dinner after that. Earnest's player didn't complain to me about the outcome exactly but he seemed pretty dissatisfied (I was too).

    But also Monster of the Week is basically a straw doll in this regard. The equivalent passage in Apocalypse World is much more interesting (honestly it has reignited my love for AW as a system) but still seems like it has an issue for me. Here's the description of what happens when an NPC takes 2-harm:
    wounds, bad pain, broken bones, shock. Likely fatal, Occasionally immediately fatal.
    (bolding is my emphasis)
    The above is followed by:
    If you don't like deciding arbitrarily, you can roll for it. Consider all the probability words above in d6 terms, trying to roll high: "generally" and "likely" mean on a 2-6; [...] But I think you can decide just fine for yourself if you want to.
    I honestly think that's awesome in some ways, but I also think it still points to the issue @2097 is highlighting. If the player has no gaurantee as to whether the GM will incorporate the gloracle into the decision or not then the gloracle loses all it's magic for setting expectations and seems kind of incoherent. I feel like the gloracle could make Earnest's decision to shoot or not shoot Erris a lot more interesting, but only if it's incorporated correctly.

    I actually still have a lot of hope for all of the above though and I'm really interested to hear people's thoughts on this. @2097 seems to be suggesting that the gloracle and prep should be used for everything but the "wallpaper" as the solution, and I think that works. But I wonder if we were explicit about which outcomes were under the domain of the gloracle and which weren't if we could capture some of the gloracle/blorby magic while still leaving wiggle room in other places. This got pretty long winded so sorry about that.
  • edited May 2019
    all traditional roleplaying games should be wholly blorby.
    This needs to be proved first. It can’t just be stated.

    Talk about cart before horse?!

    Obviously it’s fine to state a position before proving it; that’s rhetorics basics. “This house believes…”

    We’re on page two of the thread. It took two pages for you primitive screwheads you fine gentlemen to even understand my position. Now we can start talking about it. (Actually I’m not completely convinced yet that we’re at that stage yet, but maybe it’s more of a gradual transition; we’re starting to talk about the “why” with the occasional flashback & clarification back to the “what”.)

    I’m reading the word “blorb” as meaning something like what some OSR gamers call “world in motion.” The idea is that an internally consistent and causally coherent in-game universe is presented to players, who are thereby able to more easily imagine that the game-world has an independent existence. A concomitant of this is the precept that the GM is the medium through which information about the world is transmitted to players.

    Nodding along…

    What I hear Sandra calling for is a commitment on the part of the GM to devise information about the world in line with a scheme that privileges pre-planned info, masks the character of procedurally generated info, and deprecates the value of off-the-cuff invention.

    Yes, that’s the method♥

    …the components that you’re working with, that you have brought, are extremely solid and extremely assertive, and therefore what is unknown is the nature of the reactions—which reactions, and the nature of them, and most particularly the activity after that.

    From this video, Emergent plot techniques. A blorby statement!

    That makes sense, Paul. Thanks. So “blorb” operates at a purely technical level (that is, at the level of “Technique”) to enable players to Step On Up? Nobody gets a charge from seeing the gloracular Machine in operation?

    That’s what Eero and Paul have been telling me over and over again, that my love for the “dollhouse” reality isn’t a real love and that what I value most of all is apparently the challenge…? Even though IDGAF about “game balance” :bawling:

    Or, we’d have to prove why it’s not really as fun as it seems in some way. That’s a major hill to climb!

    I don’t want to judge any “show D&D”.
    I also asked you repeatedly to stop bringing up this thread.
    I don’t watch a lot of TV and that includes these shows.

    I’m gonna, shaking with rage at you trampling all over my boundaries on this matter, answer. And also that’s REALLY bad form of you pushing me so hard on this topic. #emo2097 Unlike you, my real name–Sandra Snan–is out here on Story Games. If someone misunderstands me as not liking this beloved-by-millions TV show… I don’t want that to happen. I think a lot of things about the show is great. And Mercer is an absolute sweetheart who I really admire in many ways.

    The things I personally like the most about them and that as far as I understand most fans & participants like the most of them, judging from how they get selected and put into “best of”-clips and similar, are either things that are wholly blorby [moments when the events are extremely emergent rather than pre-planned], or wholly orthogonal to blorb. There’s nothing unblorby about the characters and their interactions.

    The things that I don’t like, and the Colbert episode (like the Vin Diesel episode before it) has a clearer example of this than anything I’ve seen on the CR show proper, is when I suspect that there is unblorbiness going on behind the scenes; when I suspect illusiory techniques. Spoiler warning for the Colbert episode: the way it ended seemed very “paced as a story” and not emergent, which if true, is to me not taking advantage of the medium of a roleplaying game.

    So some important caveats to that.

    1. That ending could happen. I don’t know or care about how Mercer runs his games. Unless you practice radical transparency of method, it’s hard to see to what extent any given game complies with the blorbiness decree. Blorb happens at the engine level, not on the surface level.
    2. “Medium of roleplaying game”; but that Colbert TV show is also a show. It has to comply with the expectations of two mediums at once; possibly compromising one or both of them. (That doesn’t mean I think compromising blorb is heartwarming.)
    3. I don’t want to gatekeep specific GMs as saying “you’re doing it wrong”; I want to teach blorb because I believe it can improve their games, not because I want to lord it over them, be smug over them, say that they’re bad or w/e. I learned this lesson in the worst way during TitansGrave.
    4. Advice shows! When someone like Mick Ryley or Matt Colville puts himself up as the DM teacher number one and teaches pure & evil anti-blorb, that’s something I do take issue with. Mercer’s own advice show, that I didn’t watch a lot of, seemed very humble and polite and vague by comparison.

    Back in the Critical Role thread, I was the one who was all gung-ho and “Leave Britney alone!” when several posters here were criticizing the show in a very patronizing way.

  • There is no need for blorb to “die”! You already acknowledge that there are playstyles which do not involve blorb, just like there are pizzas without tomato sauce: there’s no contradiction there!

    You can’t just pour out melted cheese on the table without bread or a plate and call that a pizza. Blorb sets the stage and grounds the whole thing in a way that makes it unlike any story or fiction. It becomes an experience.

    To show otherwise, you’d have to come with an example of how a failure to use blorb methods in a Narrativist game led to problems and people failing to address premise and enjoy themselves.

    You have again shown that you don’t understand what my position even is. Which is why I need to state it clearly before trying to prove it.

    Narrativist games don’t have to be blorby if they aren’t using traditional techniques. The case that Fiasco isn’t a narrativist game has been made in this thread, OK, fine, slot in whatever non-traditional narrativist game you want. Durance, The Skeletons or whatever (uh, kind of a Jason-heavy example list there but w/e). You pick the game; choose an example of a premise-addressing non-traditional game. Good if you give a couple so there’s a larger chance I’m familiar with it.

    See, Khimus, this is why I need to state my position before proving it; because my position is still misunderstood.

    Which is as you quoted: all traditional roleplaying games should be wholly blorby.

    I’ll rephrase your statement Paul, to apply to what my position really is:

    To show otherwise, you’d have to come with an example of how a failure to use blorb methods in a game that used traditional techniques led to problems and people failing to address premise and enjoy themselves.

    Yes. One example. Let’s start with…

    The invented dragon in AsIf’s Lady Blackbird game.

    that’s not the actual creative payoff of the game

    This whole “creative payoff” concept is not a part of RISS official, canonical theory. I return to the game day after day, week after week, because I get excited about different things. Sometimes it’s on the soap opera layer, sometimes it’s on the puzzle layer, sometimes it’s on the discovery layer, often it’s on the rules layer because I’m at heart a Mel.

    it’s most often used to facilitate a Step On Up agenda, which is why it needs to be adhered to strictly - as you can imagine, given a different creative agenda, there wouldn’t likely be any need for it to be so strict.

    The third tier of truth, in combination with the wallpaper saliency principle, help address the strictness problem.

    Blorby tabletop roleplaying is a wonderful medium that I strongly recommend. Applicability of the three CAs is kind of not the core of why blorb is so magical.

    Regardless of why you have blorb, adding in a big unblorby element, especially when that element goes against the expectations of players, can make you lose the benefits of blorb in the first place. There’s not a lot of benefit to blorb if players think it’s all made-up and smoke-and-mirrors anyway. To see the magic of blorb, make sure the whole group understands how the game is set up, how the gloracle operates, and how that helps us know What is True in the World.

    Yesterday we had a player character death in our campaign. So unwanted. Yet so undisputed because everything about it was extremely & long-standedly established and reinforced after week after week. The sanctity of rules. The stats of the monster. The appearance rate of the monster. The location. The stairs, the floor, the walls, the rails.

    I can imagine a group purely enjoying the “gloracular Machine in operation” as their main creative goal, but I doubt very many people do. Sandra’s game uses D&D adventure modules, for example, as a large component of play - it wouldn’t make much sense to do that in a game which is purely interested in Exploration of that sort, I think.

    “Seeing the gloracular machine in operation” doesn’t map very well to the Big Model concept of Right to Dream. (It does have some more notes in common with threefold simulationism.)

    Getting an adventure module—a pre-keyed map & random encounter tables—and starting it up and making it come alive is really interesting and in some ways just as easy (or more) to feel is “real”. Mirror story; I could double check in the module years later that the mirror “was really there”. I’m not saying everyone needs to use adventure modules but if I had had access to something like The Lost City or The Lost Mine of Phandelver growing up I would’ve had a better sense of how to prep even homebrew stuff.

    I think some of this is some of you growing up with a game that is blorby and then going “Ho-ho! It gets really cool if we compromise with blorb a little bit here, here, and here!” and I’m like a ragged old mariner stumbling onto the solid shore of blorb, saying a word of warning while pointing at the raging ocean of complete zero-blorb behind me: “down that road is pure senseless nihil! I barely made it out alive!

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