"Half-myth" (why Burning Wheel is a no myth game)

So a “no myth” game was originally defined as a game where the game state wasn’t fixed until it entered the shared imagined space.

That means that “no myth” is a property of the ontology of the game. Something exists if it’s put into play and doesn’t exist if it hasn’t. (“Put into play” can also include things like “OK, before we start, I want to say that this game is about Darth Vader in a shopping mall speaking french so those three things definitely exist”.)

The GM in a no-myth game can think “I really want to put this blue chair into play, I’m gonna do it to the first normally furnished room the players enter, I feel such a strong attachment to this particular quantum blue chair. It’s gonna get in for sure. Oh blue chair my favorite” The fact that the GM is really into this blue chair does not make the blue chair half myth or the ontological state of the game “half myth”.

This means, logically, that the phrase “half myth” can’t meaningfully be defined as “some specific offscreen entities are canon, some are not”. Because that’s already what “no myth” means.

Instead, for a meaningful definition of “half myth”, how about: “some categories of offscreen entities are canon, some are not.”

“Hi guys, I’ll run everything in Duckburg fully prepped, but things over in Gooseburg is more ‘no myth’.”

“Hi guys, everything related to combat is improvised and ran ‘no myth’, I’ll just throw orcs atcha according to my own whim, but I have prepped all the entities and rules regarding the big fashion show in Veluna because I know that that’s the aspect of play that we’re the most invested in. Clothes, designers, audience reactions—all accounted for & implemented. Only with a steady whimsical stream of orc with murderous intent.”

What does this mean for Burning Wheel? It’s more of a no-myth game innit? There is no category of entities in the game that can be consistently expected to be solid.

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Comments

  • edited June 3
    What about "which myth" then ? as in "this game is fashion-solid with some free-orcs." Or "The game tonight is a solid mystery *I shouldn't even be telling you this* but the carousing is free." "this game has a solid dungeon but the free drama is stronger anyway." That would be more informative, pragmatic. Heck, I would enter a Lacuna game eyes closed with a warning of this kind. Else, what do you need a word like "no-myth" for ?
  • In the Forge thread, the idea that there could be a solid off-screen game, state, that very concept was just a "myth" since "everyone knows" that "every bit of gaming is just make-believe". That was the myth he wanted to dispell. Just like how flat-earthers want to dispell the "myth" that the Earth is round. Which… uh… I'm not gonna get behind :bawling:
  • Interestingly in Burning Wheel the players can mechanically probe to find out which things are myth and no-myth... -wise rolls work differently if the GM has hidden information prepped versus doesn't yet know. In the first case they can roll to find stuff out, in the second they can roll to establish stuff.

    In all systems players have a way to find out, of course, by watching the GM's face carefully as they ask questions. :D
  • watching the GM's face carefully as they ask questions. :D
    Oh, I didn't know that! I have impaired vision
  • Well, not just facial expressions, but also body language, tone, pauses, and the word "ummm..."
  • Think of it this way: to a vegetarian, you shouldn't put even a small amount of grilled hamburger meat in the meal. But to a non-vegetarian, it's perfectly fine to mix meat and vegetables to achieve whatever it is you *are* aiming for in that meal.
    But it isn't a vegetarian meal. It's not even a "half-vegetarian" meal.
  • I think the proper response there is that there is absolutely no reason to ever be a “vegetarian”, in game terms. :)

    We’re all better off if we’re all “non-vegetarians”, even if we tend to prefer meals with no meat in them.
  • I think the proper response there is that there is absolutely no reason to ever be a “vegetarian”, in game terms. :)
    I was using it as an analogy for explaining why the original no-myth definition as posed by le Joueur already included everything from 1% non-blorb to 99% non-blorb. What he called a "myth" was the very notion that there could be an offscreen gamestate, that there could be a blorb.

    I introduced the concept of "full myth" four years ago here on this board as a negation of that concept. The idea of "half-myth" is just confusing!
    We’re all better off if we’re all “non-vegetarians”, even if we tend to prefer meals with no meat in them.
    There's a bigger difference between a game with 0% fudging vs 1% fudging,

    than there is between a game with 1% fudging and 99% fudging.
    In terms of tension, edge, uncertainty etc.

    That's also an analogy I don't want to get into the whole fudging debate.

    But there is a difference between a game having an off-screen game-state that's canon, vs a game that does not have that.
  • I think this is a major point of misunderstanding here: you seem to equate "non-blorb" with "fudging".

    That's often been the case historically, sure, but there is no fundamental reason to equate the two.

    I could be entirely anti-blorb *and* entirely anti-fudging.

    I can understand taking a "anti-fudging" stance, even categorically. (I do so myself, fairly strictly, for instance.)

    I cannot understand or condone a categorical "anti-No Myth" stance (or whatever the opposite of "blorb" might be!). There are games where No Myth might be a bad idea, sure, but there is no reason to take a universal stand again "No Myth", the way a vegetarian takes a stance against eating meat.

    (This is in response to your answer to Deliverator, which I feel is more likely to run us off the tracks of this discussion than to add to it. Like, yeah, to a vegetarian, adding a bit of meat to a meal makes it "non-vegetarian", by definition, but this is a part of the analogy which I think isn't helpful in the context of a gaming discussion. So I was trying to point out the flaw in the analogy and get back to talking about games, which I still we can do here. :) )
  • edited June 3
    I think this is a major point of misunderstanding here: you seem to equate “non-blorb” with “fudging”.

    No. (Unless you really mess up the expectations setting.)

    All I was doing was using the analogy that regardless if you do a little or a lot of non-blorb, that qualifies linguistically and semantically for “no myth”.

    I cannot understand or condone a categorical “anti-No Myth” stance (or whatever the opposite of “blorb” might be!). There are games where No Myth might be a bad idea, sure, but there is no reason to take a universal stand again “No Myth”, the way a vegetarian takes a stance against eating meat.

    The idea is that… “hey, let’s play with the idea that the ‘unblorb + traditional techniques’ combo is Bad, and see whether that improves or worsens design”.

    Whether Burning Wheel is sufficiently hippiefied with regards to those traditional techniques is something you guys know more about than I do. I don’t understand the game. Obviously “introduce elements post-hoc that are designed to challenge player beliefs” is not a player-facing / player-visible mechanic so that is not hippiefied/disruptive enough. In order to set the expectation that this isn’t a blorb game, mechanics such as “circles” are employed; the Q then being if those mechanics are enough.

  • "No myth" was a hypothesis that said that there could not be, in any game, an off-screen game state [so why not take advantage of that and make prep easier], and all games that claimed that there were an off-screen game state were kidding themselves and buying into a "myth".

    The three tiers of truth (along with wallpaper saliency) is a falsification of the "no myth" hypothesis.
  • Well, I think it *is* a myth, absolutely.

    (But that doesn't mean it can't be a useful myth; by pretending that certain things "really exist", we get some interesting and fun effects in play, whether it's by thorough prep, a principled fashion of creating that material on the fly, or just by deception.)
  • Well, I think it *is* a myth, absolutely.
    Well I sure as heckfire strongly disagree with that!! C.f. "air chess" example, phone grocery store, phone bike fixing examples.

  • But its possible that you misunderstand the ontological specifics of the claim (of the "myth"); I do not believe that Blackrazor physically exists and that Ed Greenword literally has a portal in Canada to the Forgotten Realms.

    The claim is that there is an off-screen gamestate that's canon; that the imagined space includes things that haven't been shared yet, and that treating those things as mutable at will would be a violation of the table contract.
  • This means, logically, that the phrase “half myth” can’t meaningfully be defined as “some specific offscreen entities are canon, some are not”. Because that’s already what “no myth” means.

    Instead, for a meaningful definition of “half myth”, how about: “some categories of offscreen entities are canon, some are not.”
    I don't think "half-myth" is a very meaningful term, or that it can be defined. I think it was Deliverator's off-hand label for a way to play which can be really fun. (You can tell me if I misread you, Deliverator!)

    If I were to talk about roleplaying in this fashion, I would have to only label games as "No Myth" or "Half-Myth", because the hypothetical Full Myth game does not exist (unless we limit our Exploration and the available choices for the players far more than in most RPGs - "Choose Your Own Adventure" books are arguably Full Myth, for example).

    In other words, in every game where there is ANY "offscreen content", it is "Half-Myth".

    However, what Deliverator was talking about, I think, is a certain type of roleplaying game which has lots of "gaps" in its prep but still retains solid prep for the issues that are pertinent to play (relevant to our creative goals, what we're playing to find out).

    I like Sandra's image of "bones of steel in a cloud" for this - it's a great metaphor.

    I think that in every game, we achieve success be figuring out what is salient, and then developing some means to lock that in, to make player decisions meaningful. "Locking it in" could mean prior prep, principled improvisation, assigning authorship rights, or reliable procedures (like D&D's random encounters and BW's Circles tests).

    I have barely played BW, so I can't speak to that game in particular, but it seems to have the same basic set of tools as other "character-driven games with a traditional GM/player split", so I can't imagine it would be too different from, say, a lot of PbtA games or The Shadow of Yesterday.

    Those feel entirely different in play from "No Myth" play, because there are "bones" in the "cloud" to bounce off.

    I think you (Sandra) are confused by this idea because what is salient in these games is different from what is salient in your D&D game. You see a failure to do blorb properly, whereas what is actually happening is people doing exactly the right prep for their desired creative goals.
  • Yes, "half-blorb" or "half-Klockwerk" or "half-solid" or "half-tangible" sure. I guess I just got trapped into a semantics quagmire about the "myth" specificially, and its origins.
  • I think you (Sandra) are confused by this idea because what is salient in these games is different from what is salient in your D&D game. You see a failure to do blorb properly, whereas what is actually happening is people doing exactly the right prep for their desired creative goals.

    That’s not the snag; let me clarify the snag more specifically.

    You’re understanding the whole in a could bones of steel thing and the “wallpaper saliency principle” that followed, but,

    In Burning Wheel, the “circle-introduced” contacts [not that that’s a blorb issue, that’s only a stance issue] and the belief-challenging-newly-created-entities [not that that’s a stance issue, that’s only a blorb issue] are both extremely salient and core to BW’s play.

  • Right. So what's your question or concern? (I agree with what you just wrote.)
  • edited June 3
    Since that is salient rather than wallpaper, those elements should be introduced gloracularly in order for BW to stay blorby.

    An example suggestion in this vein would be to introduce some randomness/ "disclaim decision-making" in their introduction.

    If that would break BW, instead don't do that but make the game radically hippiefied and not use the traditional techniques.

    An example suggestion in this vein would be to make the introduction of these elements very player-facing / "transparency of method". That would make it clear that it's not a blorb game.
  • How much of that is necessary if all the players are already 100% clear that the game is not blorb, and have bought into that reality?

    This is basically what I'm asking you in the other thread, too: is this all about managing expectations? (Which is a fair point, but it's an awfully big leap from "this can set the wrong expectations" to "this is bad and you shouldn't do it".)
  • edited June 3
    This is basically what I'm asking you in the other thread
    Right, and that thread isn't finished. Let's finish that part of the philosophical exploration over there; this side thread was only for the specific semantic nitpick around the phrase "half myth".
  • The claim is that there is an off-screen gamestate that's canon; that the imagined space includes things that haven't been shared yet, and that treating those things as mutable at will would be a violation of the table contract.
    Doesn't the fact that it's still possible to treat those things as mutable (even though you aren't supposed to), that it's still possible to violate the table contract (even though you don't want to), support the No-Myth claim?

    I don't understand how Three Tiers actually falsifies it. It's just another procedure for introducing information to the SIS, just like blorb techniques are. Right? And those procedures can be complex and ideologically charged and critical to some people's enjoyment of a game, but they still aren't the same thing as Myth itself.
  • How much of that is necessary if all the players are already 100% clear that the game is not blorb, and have bought into that reality?

    This is basically what I'm asking you in the other thread, too: is this all about managing expectations? (Which is a fair point, but it's an awfully big leap from "this can set the wrong expectations" to "this is bad and you shouldn't do it".)
    This is my view as well. Sure, you might get the occasional person who refuses to recalibrate their expectations and ends up not enjoying the game, but that can happen with any set of techniques.

    I don't particularly care about the terminology, but I do think it's important to distinguish something like BW from, say, PrimeTime Adventures in terms of how prep works. PTA tends to be played in true "story game" fashion, albeit with a GM.
  • Doesn't the fact that it's still possible to treat those things as mutable (even though you aren't supposed to), that it's still possible to violate the table contract (even though you don't want to), support the No-Myth claim?
    Hi @yukamichi
    Please read this li'l story.

    In that analogy, the no-myth claim is like saying "since you could just rattle off a random letter and number without connecting it to a board, then there musn't be a board in the first place".
    I don't understand how Three Tiers actually falsifies it. It's just another procedure for introducing information to the SIS, just like blorb techniques are. Right? And those procedures can be complex and ideologically charged and critical to some people's enjoyment of a game, but they still aren't the same thing as Myth itself.
    The "no myth" claim is, even the blorbiest of blorby games, when there eventually is a prep lacuna, which according to no-myth philosophy there always will be, will be played no myth or will be evidence that there is no myth.

    Here:
    So I guess the ultimate answer to "How are they playing by No Myth?" would be "When the have to make stuff up."

    He then leaps to the conclusion that since there are hat-pulled moments, every moment might as well be hat-pulled. Which is exactly the same conclusion I had come to ten years earlier, in the mid nineties.

    The reason the three tiers of truth (the fact that they are tiered to fall back on each other only when the tier above it doesn’t cover the question) together with the wallpaper-saliency principle falsify that claim/conclusion is that they are not only a rule for how to introduce entities into the imagined space (both “shared” and offscreen) [which in and of itself is actually kinda would’ve been enough to falsify the claim of no-myth, right?], but they are a meta rule on how to make rules for how to introduce entities into the imagined space.

    In the no myth, it’s “just follow genre expectations because there is no real anyway” but I’ve found the “real”: rules and metarules for how to introduce elements.

  • This is my view as well. Sure, you might get the occasional person who refuses to recalibrate their expectations and ends up not enjoying the game, but that can happen with any set of techniques.

    I don’t particularly care about the terminology, but I do think it’s important to distinguish something like BW from, say, PrimeTime Adventures in terms of how prep works. PTA tends to be played in true “story game” fashion, albeit with a GM.

    While I answered that post of Paul’s directly, in the other thread, I kinda have to delegate the Burning Wheel specific part of this important blorb research to someone who understands BW better than I do. Maybe you, @Deliverator, or @moconnor.

    I have the game right here beside me but I do not understand it and I don’t have any experience with it at the table, especially as GM. (I’ve seen plenty of YouTube games of it, but “transcript isn’t enough”.)

    You know my philosophy right?

    Games that don’t use the four traditional techniques in a vanilla way (that’s information separation, each player character is only being run by one player each, identifying stance and GM plays world) can be as unblorb as they like.

    Games that do use them should be blorby.

    So the, uh, “research homework” I’d like to delegate to someone who can grok both BW (which I can’t) and my weird acid-fueled home-cooked RPG theory, is…

    1. Does BW in practice and at the table use the four traditional techniques in a vanilla way? If not, it’s excluded from my requirement to be blorb and gets off the hook that way.

    2. Is BW in practice and at the table unblorby, i.e. injects entities in a non-gloracular way? It can get off the hook if there’s no like “quantum bears” (i.e. if I am misreading Twilight in the Duchy Verdorben p 14) or whatever, if things are introduced just like in any OSR game, through the map key or encounter tables. Speaking specifically about the GM-introduced entities here.

    I am legitimately unsure about both of these points.

  • edited June 3
    [...] but I’ve found the “real”: rules and metarules for how to introduce elements.
    Ok! This is great. I think it gets to the bottom of the issue.

    You are saying: "look how much better play is when you have rules and metarules for how to introduce elements! Here are my rules and metarules and they are so great!"

    And we are all, like, "Hell yeah! Those are awesome!" [And, of course, you're presenting them in a different - and, I would argue, better - way, but they're rules and metarules that lots of people and play traditions have used before. But I'll just call them "yours" as a shorthand for now.]

    But then you seem to go from there all the way to, "If you're doing something similar but different, you need to reconsider, or you'll have no fun at all, like I did for a long time! It was awful, I tell ya. Because operating without those rules and metarules makes the game lose all sense of tangibility and it doesn't seem 'solid' anymore."

    And we respond, "Yes, that feeling of solidity is pretty cool. Some games accept that nothing feels solid and that's ok, as you say - hippie games - and others have those rules you mention. But those aren't the only options. There's a whole other category, too, of games that operate on similar but different rules and metarules. And, because there are rules and metarules in operation, just like in the style you're describing, the games do feel tangible and 'solid' and are fun in a similar way."

    But you are sticking to, "No! It's either my rules/metarules or no rules at all! Those are the only two options! A game which hybridizes in any way threatens me, because what if people get it wrong? Yuck."

    And that's totally fine to state as a personal preference, but if you're going to make it into a statement of fact, you're going to annoy people, just like any other way of making something people are enjoying sound like a categorically bad thing.

    Otherwise, you need to show fairly specifically how and why doing a hybrid is going to lead to a specific and recognizable problem. If you do that, then people playing that way (which is a lot of people just now!) can go play and then notice that same problem and understand what you were saying (and change how they play and potentially join your crusade ;) ).
  • Does BW in practice and at the table use [information separation, each player character is only being run by one player each, identifying stance and GM plays world] in a vanilla way? If not, it’s excluded from my requirement to be blorb and gets off the hook that way.
    Mostly yes. Maybe some slight differences, like introducing facts via -wises or the presence of persons via Circles.
    Is BW in practice and at the table unblorby, i.e. injects entities in a non-gloracular way? It can get off the hook if there’s no like “quantum bears” (i.e. if I am misreading Twilight in the Duchy Verdorben p 14) or whatever, if things are introduced just like in any OSR game, through the map key or encounter tables. Speaking specifically about the GM-introduced entities here.
    Definitely unblorby. Very much so. Can be played blorby, e.g. Burning THAC0, but generally it's perfectly good practice for a GM to figure out a bunch of elements that can challenge player character beliefs and some will be blorb-like and some will be ready to introduce as a failure consequence whenever it makes sense.
    Games that do use them should be blorby.
    And the reason I think it works in BW is because the map includes belief-space. A player may in fact predictably change blorb-space in BW simply by writing a belief which is not challenged by what everyone knows is the status quo. That's part of BW physics. (they won't know what they're changing or how it will change, only that it will change).
  • rules and metarules for how to introduce elements.
    There's a whole other category, too, of games that operate on similar but different rules and metarules.

    And the reason I think it works in BW is because the map includes belief-space. A player may in fact predictably change blorb-space in BW simply by writing a belief which is not challenged by what everyone knows is the status quo. That's part of BW physics. (they won't know what they're changing or how it will change, only that it will change).
    Exactly!

  • And we respond, “Yes, that feeling of solidity is pretty cool. Some games accept that nothing feels solid and that’s ok, as you say - hippie games - and others have those rules you mention. But those aren’t the only options. There’s a whole other category, too, of games that operate on similar but different rules and metarules. And, because there are rules and metarules in operation, just like in the style you’re describing, the games do feel tangible and ‘solid’ and are fun in a similar way.”

    But you are sticking to, “No! It’s either my rules/metarules or no rules at all! Those are the only two options! A game which hybridizes in any way threatens me, because what if people get it wrong? Yuck.”

    No, I’m not.
    We crossposted, while you were writing this, I wrote this over in the other thread:

    Conversely, one could argue that BW […] can be considered fully blorb already, that the introduction of elements is analogous to map keys and encounter tables. I am not making that latter claim though. I just don’t know.

    I’ve also given similar allowances for Apocalypse World in the thread. Saying I just don’t know and that it’s something that I’m not sure about. We’ve seen Jon’s more blorby take on DW. I have also been thinking about how blorby a game of AW could become (after the first session).

    The metarule of the first two of my three principles: the three tiers of truth, and the wallpaper saliency principle, I do think is a universal way to look at “injection-of-entities” rules.

    Just as how the “dice and cloud” that Vincent came up with can be applied to analyzing a whole bunch of games on the IIEE level, so can the three tiers of truth be applied to analyzing a whole bunch of games on the ontological level.

    And, not every good game has the exact same flow of dice/cloud arrows but being aware of those arrows and their flow make for better game design.

    Notably, the “second tier of truth”, “generative mechanics”, can look very different from game to game. In the OSR it’s obv map keys and encounter tables. Other games can have a different take on this and they can still be fully blorby.

    Otherwise, you need to show fairly specifically how and why doing a hybrid is going to lead to a specific and recognizable problem.

    But what I am trying to do is to show how awareness of these issues, and these design tools (the three tiers of truth for example) can make design crisper, more focused, more better. Maybe there’s not a problem but just it can still be better. Just like how the increased IIEE awareness that the dice/cloud series brought with it led to much crisper and better IIEE design.

  • And we crossposted again :bawling:
  • edited June 3
    And, of course, you're presenting them in a different - and, I would argue, better - way, but they're rules and metarules that lots of people and play traditions have used before. But I'll just call them "yours" as a shorthand for now.
    I have been writing about them for years. I haven't seen them anywhere else. The OSR blogs taught me map keys and random tables, but that's just one specific set of "generative tools". Arranging the three kinds of truth sources (prepped facts, generative rules, lacuna safety net) as fallback tiers is my own invention, as is the zen-derived process of patching the hole, forgiving yourself, trying again. Anyone who wants to dispute this has the burden of proof on them. Dig up prior art or stfu.

    Edit: that sounds harsh but we are talking about the thing that I am proudest of in my entire life. And I've done a lot of weird shit; worked for the UN, wrote a novel, made friends with my game design idol, been in a rock band, gotten kissed at a museum, wrote sestinas, gone through therapy, led a meditation class, coped with disease… and then I look back at my life and I'm like "just wow those three tiers of truth that was pretty great!"
  • Haha! That's fair. I'm sure I've seen similar things before (and Eero's various threads here about his D&D adventures cover a lot of that ground), and reading your presentation of them has always seemed like a "yep, she's got it down good!" rather than a "I've never seen this before!" to me, but I don't have any bookmarks on hand.

    In any case, it seems to me that many/most OSR circles have some version of that understanding.

    I do think that your presentation is superior to most.
  • Conversely, one could argue that BW […] can be considered fully blorb already, that the introduction of elements is analogous to map keys and encounter tables. I am not making that latter claim though. I just don’t know.

    [...]

    I’ve also given similar allowances for Apocalypse World in the thread. Saying I just don’t know and that it’s something that I’m not sure about. We’ve seen Jon’s more blorby take on DW. I have also been thinking about how blorby a game of AW could become (after the first session).
    Yeah, we're on the same page here. I think that if you mean "blorby" is a question of how solid and committed to prep things are, they are definitely less "blorby" than your games. (For example, you'd rarely use or need random tables in AW; they wouldn't make the game better except in rare cases where the MC doesn't have ANY good ideas and neither do the players.) However, if it's a question of following principles of saliency and making things up in a principled fashion, then it's a good match.

    But what I am trying to do is to show how awareness of these issues, and these design tools (the three tiers of truth for example) can make design crisper, more focused, more better. Maybe there’s not a problem but just it can still be better. Just like how the increased IIEE awareness that the dice/cloud series brought with it led to much crisper and better IIEE design.

    Yes! I love this.

    I think that *exploring* how more or less "blorb" might change, improve, or weaken games in that "half-Myth" area is tremendously fruitful.

    I'd love to see how you apply your tiers and pillars and techniques to this kind of analysis! That would be *super* interesting.
  • But what I am trying to do is to show how awareness of these issues, and these design tools (the three tiers of truth for example) can make design crisper, more focused, more better. Maybe there’s not a problem but just it can still be better. Just like how the increased IIEE awareness that the dice/cloud series brought with it led to much crisper and better IIEE design.

    Like, just imagine how much easier to understand, and clearer written, Burning Empires and Burning Wheel with the Adventure Burner could be if they had some awareness of this idea of being clear about what rules govern injection of entities into the SIS. Blades and WoDu too. Burning Empires took me years to understand and then as soon as I understood it, I sold it.

    AW is pretty clear to understand here but it could be more ontologically satisfying if it had even more clarity around these issues (regardless of where it decided to land on the issue).
    In any case, it seems to me that many/most OSR circles have some version of that understanding.
    You're right—it's a codification of their unverbalized practice. That's good to remember. Even though I think codifying it was vital for me to grok it. OK maybe I should do some more weird shit in my life to be proud of. Time to make a new bucket list I guess!

  • random tables in AW; they wouldn't make the game better except in rare cases where the MC doesn't have ANY good ideas and neither do the players.
    In Unframed, Vincent explicitly says to not use random tables…

    ...but the benefit isn't just about ideas, it's about disclaiming decision-making on the entity level.

  • edited June 3
    ...and that's exactly why we don't generally want or need them in AW: we don't want to disclaim decision-making for this kind of thing (at least not as often as we do in OSR-style gaming).

    The whole point is to express ourselves by making stylistic, aesthetic, and thematic choices as we play.

  • And the reason I think it works in BW is because the map includes belief-space. A player may in fact predictably change blorb-space in BW simply by writing a belief which is not challenged by what everyone knows is the status quo. That's part of BW physics. (they won't know what they're changing or how it will change, only that it will change).
    This is a good and solid point. Players (who have a sense of the rules) know that writing beliefs is one of the ways of influencing the game state. I like it a lot.
  • This is a good and solid point. Players (who have a sense of the rules) know that writing beliefs is one of the ways of influencing the game state. I like it a lot.
    Oh, jeez, and you know what... not knowing that is a good way to ruin the game. I had a friend who was like, "I like the Fight! mechanics. Our game should have more fights." And I replied, "Well, write more fighty Beliefs then." And she was like, "But that's not what my character would dooooooo..." *maximum facepalm*

    I think the GM and I could have done a better job, perhaps, of making it as explicit as the text does that Beliefs are about player priorities. But mostly I do lay this failure at the feet of the player, because she just wasn't able to listen to that at that time.

    Anyhoo, in terms of the three tiers, here is how BW works:

    1) Prepped stuff: prep things that are either directly related to challenging the PCs' Beliefs, or to the GM's Big Thing, but not much else. Drawing a reasonably-detailed map of an area the PCs are traveling through is fine. (I have done this and it was helpful.)

    Anything you prep like that, you definitely need to stick to.

    2) Gloracle: What Gloracle there is, is entirely player-facing, actually. Guy is a bit too dismissive, in my opinion, of just how hippy-ish (w/o being fully hippy, obviously) BW really is. (Not only is there entirely transparent, player-facing methods for authoring some setting facts, but you also have explicit GM-stakes setting, and even stakes negotiation in many cases. Stakes-setting is somewhat un-blorb, right?)

    (You can also use system-neutral gloracle stuff like name lists for, you know, a random Dwarf the PCs meet. XGtE strikes again!)

    3) Stuff the GM makes up on the spot using the principle of saliency: yes, there is a fair amount of this. But there are very solid meta-rules in play around how this aspect works:

    -Don't introduce anything contradictory to what came before, in terms of facts
    -What you introduce should fit with the tone and genre boundaries established in Session Zero and up til now
    -As much as possible, what you introduce should pose awkward choices for one or more PCs and their Beliefs. I want to expound on this one, because it's not as hard as it sounds. What you're really doing is having the PCs already in the middle of doing something to pursue one of the Beliefs, and then they fail a roll or something. So usually it will be fairly obvious what would be a reasonable consequence that makes pursuing that Belief harder. And remember, if the GM can't think of any interesting consequences, then there can't, by the rules, be a roll.
  • Could someone explain to me what the hell “blorb” means so I don’t have to try and figure it out?
  • Oh, Jeff... did you just wander into this, sight-unseen? :pensive:

    It's a Sandra-word; here's a useful link -

    http://www.story-games.com/forums/discussion/22097/etymology-of-blorb


    Matt/Deliverator,

    That's a pretty good summary! I like it.

    I'm not so sure about explicit stake-setting. It's un-blorb in that it's not based on prep, but it's highly blorb in that it's an objective resolution technique that creates emergent narrative and can't be used to, say, hide railroading. I would consider it quite "gloracular", myself - and more "blorb" than not.

    I think that such explicit resolution techniques are pretty close to the "blorby" end of the spectrum, even though they look quite different on the surface from traditional resolution mechanics (in that they differ from the in precisely the ways that make them good for emergent narrative/story/gameplay and lending validity to player decisions).
  • I'm putting in a quote from the other thread in order to consolidate:
    I think Burning Wheel is far closer to a blorb game than a hippie game, by your criteria (and most people's). If you make it less "traditional", that will make it less appealing to a lot of the game's fans.
    See, the first sentence here I think is nonsense, while the second sentence is pretty much spot on.

    Let me unpack that: BW is suuuuuuuuuper hippified in many respects. Not all of them—it has pretty traditional-ish crunchy rules for simulating the medieval / fantasy world, casting spells, injuries, weapons, and so on. But it has some really huge—and ongoing—non-trad techniques at play as well.

    Not only does it have Circles, Wises, and other knowledge skills.

    Not only does it have the players constantly telling the GM how to prep by evolving their Beliefs.

    It also doesn't break if you start, for example, breaking character monogamy. Sometimes you do, in fact, play someone else's relationship character if your character isn't around but you don't want to sit out. This isn't 100% supported by the rules-text, but it's not... like, a huge problem if you do this sometimes.

    I'd also argue that it has radical transparency of method relative to most traditional games.

    BUT! You're right that much of the appeal of BW is in those very hard-coded rules: the detailed tactical combat, the strategy of how character advancement works, and so on. OTOH, lighter games that use the BW engine do exist and are great.
    You're right that it asks you to "switch stances" sometimes, in limited and circumscribed areas. So do PbtA games.

    Some people are bothered by this. Some people aren't bothered by it at all - they love it! Still others are a bit bothered, but they accept it because they like the effects on play, and that's a worthwhile tradeoff for them.
    Yeah, I think the "are you bothered by needing to change stance?" question may be at the root of a lot of the disagreements / misunderstandings in this thread. BW is probably not a good game to be a PC in if you can't comfortable switch stances! Note, though, that this is much more of a "veteran gamer" problem than a "new player" problem. I've had great success running BW for people who'd never roleplayed before. They had no expectations to disrupt, and we left out the detailed subsystems (something specifically recommended by the text), and it was fine.
  • Now, as to the question of whether stakes-setting is blorb or not: yeah, I see your point, Paul. I think stakes-setting is blorb-supporting... but it's very untraditional, because it breaks separation of information.
  • Could someone explain to me what the hell “blorb” means so I don’t have to try and figure it out?
    I have been trying to avoid using the word since it is (intentionally?) very unclear. @Silmenume suggested 'Klockwerk' as an alternative, which I like. Here's my sense of what we're talking about (which @2097 is calling blorb):
    -Games where as much as possible (location details, adversity, stakes, etc) is prepped in detail ahead of time.
    -What can't be prepped (or wasn't) is decided by an totally transparent fortune system (random tables etc).
    -System that alter the game state dynamically (time, inventory, resources, hunger, etc) are tracked transparently and consistently.
    -Players have a single character, and their input into the game is limited to the plausible actions of that character, questions about the perceptions of that character, and manipulation of the games systems (buying/selling, following consistent combat resolution rules.

    The above add up (to me) to a feeling like the game is running largely on its own logic, to which GM and player alike are bound. That's why I like the term Klockwerk: this is a style where the cogs move on their own (as much as possible) and the players adapt.

  • afaik blorby means "in-world facts or distributions over facts are set beforehand as much as possible, and when running the game if you were the one who set them then forget about that role as much as you can it's not your job while running (okay sometimes you have to patch holes)". No determining new facts to fit story or drama, only to fit in-world physics and facts.
  • Matt,

    I can see the "BW is not very traditional!" angle. It's certainly got lots of interesting technology in it! And those bits and pieces have a major impact on gameplay.

    However, I also think that it's closer to a traditional game than a "hippie game", because Sandra has been talking about "hippie games" as ones that don't have a GM or traditional resolution mechanics (e.g. Fiasco). BW seems more like something like Sorcerer or The Shadow of Yesterday to me, on the spectrum of traditional-hippie: it's got some stuff in it, yeah, but it's still fundamentally "you are the GM and I play my character who has stats and abilities and stuff, and we roll to see how well I do".

    Your comments about character non-monogamy surprised me. Is there anything about BW that makes it more or less amenable to character non-monogamy than in other "GM + players" RPG? Nothing comes to mind for me, but I don't know all the ins and outs of the game all that well (especially compared to someone with in-depth knowledge, like yourself).
  • BW is definitely a "relationship sandbox," at least normally. So sometimes it's helpful to have NPCs in the relationship-map personified, and sometimes more than one at a time in the same scene.

    BW also has the benefit of it being very easy to determine NPCs' stats on the fly and in a world-consistent way. In some respects, this may be one of its blorbiest aspects. But it means that if you're playing a character who isn't your PC, and you need to make a roll, it's really easy to figure out the dice pool, generally speaking.

    BTW, Luke might be horrified at me and my friends playing around with character non-monogamy like that! In Burning Empires you can definitely play your character's second-in-command in scenes, that's RAW; we're just taking that principle a little further.

    As for the broader question of where BW falls on the spectrum of hippie ---- traditional, well, let me add this:

    It is in fact possible to play BW without a GM. Jonathan White and I created a hack of it called Burning Kingdoms, layering the Burning Empires faction / disposition rules onto the usual fantasy BW. Each player controls an entire faction in the gameworld: a leader, their 2iC, military units, etc.

    I've played in two almost-complete campaigns of it. One had four factions, the other had three. Both fell apart for (very different!) social reasons, but the gameplay was fabulous. Some of the most fun I've had roleplaying.
  • Guy is a bit too dismissive, in my opinion, of just how hippy-ish (w/o being fully hippy, obviously) BW really is. (Not only is there entirely transparent, player-facing methods for authoring some setting facts, but you also have explicit GM-stakes setting, and even stakes negotiation in many cases. Stakes-setting is somewhat un-blorb, right?)
    GM failure resolution can be fairly un-blorb, yeah. The way I do it is:
    * what are several reasonable (from in-world facts/physics) ways this situation could go wrong?
    * which of those challenges BITs?
    * pick one arbitrarily
    * or if none remain, make up something less reasonable

    So mine is "try to generate blorby outcomes then constrain by BITs" but you could do "generate BITful outcomes then constrain by blorb" but I don't like the second approach.

    In general a roll resolves a larger swathe of stuff-that's-actually-interesting than would be possible to be fully gloracular (blorby) for.
  • That post I agree with!
  • Setting stakes is the same as the OSR process of rulings: Game master/referee, or sometimes a player, suggests possible outcomes and a way of selecting one of them by using the rules framework at hand.

    You are trying to find a particular mushroom in the forest, because the hallucinogens are good for summoning fey. In Burning wheel, the game master assigns a skill and a difficulty for the roll and tells what happens on a failure. In OSR, the referee does the same decisions, might or might not announce what he has decided (there is table variation and this also depends on the circumstances - is a character's life on on balance, is there the possibility of finding wrong mushrooms, etc.).
  • …and that’s exactly why we don’t generally want or need them in AW: we don’t want to disclaim decision-making for this kind of thing (at least not as often as we do in OSR-style gaming).

    The whole point is to express ourselves by making stylistic, aesthetic, and thematic choices as we play.

    If that’s true, that’s a big turnoff for me with regards to participating as a player in an AW game.

    Oh, jeez, and you know what... not knowing that is a good way to ruin the game. I had a friend who was like, "I like the Fight! mechanics. Our game should have more fights." And I replied, "Well, write more fighty Beliefs then." And she was like, "But that's not what my character would dooooooo..." *maximum facepalm*

    Yes, facepalm at the the game design for not conveying to her that this is how the game works.

    And that’s the sort of design questions I’m trying to explore here so this is awesome, we’re getting data.

    I’m not so sure about explicit stake-setting. It’s un-blorb in that it’s not based on prep, but it’s highly blorb in that it’s an objective resolution technique that creates emergent narrative and can’t be used to, say, hide railroading. I would consider it quite “gloracular”, myself - and more “blorb” than not.

    I think that such explicit resolution techniques are pretty close to the “blorby” end of the spectrum, even though they look quite different on the surface from traditional resolution mechanics (in that they differ from the in precisely the ways that make them good for emergent narrative/story/gameplay and lending validity to player decisions).

    I can get behind that.

    I have been trying to avoid using the word since it is (intentionally?) very unclear.

    The intent was that the word was unambiguous. The old word I was using for this for years was very stupidly chosen (by me. BTW I get that the words “dumb” and “stupid” are ablist but uh I don’t know how else to refer to my own bad decisions) as “sandbox” which obv, never again, people use those seven letters “sandbox” to describe all kinds of games.

    “Solid diegesis” I like as kind of an alternative idk. I don’t really mind Klockwerk either but the point isn’t to make the game a robot game, it’s to get this “tangible”, “real” feeling.

    “The off-screen game-state is also canon” is one way to summarize it.

    Games where as much as possible (location details, adversity, stakes, etc) is prepped in detail ahead of time.

    Events should not be prepped though, things like “and no matter what, the bad guy should get away somehow” is not adherent. Prep should be places/problems/goals, not a sequence of scenes and setpieces.

    (Or for some game styles the relationship map is more important than the location map.)

    Players have a single character, and their input into the game is limited to the plausible actions of that character, questions about the perceptions of that character, and manipulation of the games systems (buying/selling, following consistent combat resolution rules.

    This is maybe the unblorbiest part of our own game since we have some henches that we shift around control over.

    The above add up (to me) to a feeling like the game is running largely on its own logic, to which GM and player alike are bound. That’s why I like the term Klockwerk: this is a style where the cogs move on their own (as much as possible) and the players adapt.

    Oh like an ant farm! Or a petri dish.

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