An Invitation for 2097, Jeph, Thanuir...

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  • @Silmenume

    I'll try to start over.

    I was not personally triggered by the drug-demon in Johann's example. Johann seemed to read me that way too, so obviously I was writing very unclearly. Hey, my brain worx on pointers and cells instead of Human Language so I might not be the best writer ever…

    What I was saying that I've had the experience of someone adding something to the SIS [it wasn't a drug-demon], me flipping out & passing out & fainting or whatever, and them going "OK no never mind that didn't happen" and that not doing a lot to help me. Once I've seen a live cobra on stage it's gonna change how I dance even if the cobra is removed. Of course post therapy I'm going snake dancin all the time but I'm not ableist enough to presume that everyone else I've ever met is gonna be "post-therapy".

    So that was the one thing I was saying:

    1. Respect lines. That's something you can do at the prep stage just as well as at any stage.

    2. The game state can have contradictions and those contradictions can be resolved. "OK so the locked box you've been carrying with you for the last four sessions finally opens on its own one night and in it is… a live cobra!" "DM, I don't want that. Please can we change it."

    The fact that the box contents have been listed in the DM prep as "live cobra" for the last month or so makes it maybe 1% more scary, at most, than if the DM improvised the live cobra right then and there? And the situations can be resolved in the same way, i.e. with great difficulty & respecting everyone at the table & with navigating the social contracts etc.
  • @Lumpley

    So I've been thinking lately that the sort of "core" of this "tangibility" that I want, or that I got from the "mirror story", is a sort of "symmetry" where both the player and the DM pretend that the stone floor is a stone floor, the mirror is a mirror etc. Both sides approaching the material with the same respect, it's not one side using ye olde hat-pulling source book. Unlike the previously listed principles, which I've been tryna float for a few years, this new "symmetry" theory is kinda new & maybe won't hold up. It's just an idea at this stage
  • edited June 2019
    Like a reader-writer contract. Hippy and Klokwerk under the same rule : that the degree of respect for the material be the same for all participants.

    At least due to the fact that here is a threshold under which play loses structure (requiring extra effort in constructive seriousness to "take the game seriously").

    Under that rule, the power of GM is exceptional and as such must be justified inch by inch, not taken as a whole from tradition.
    Doubly so when we're starting to pick players for bad things happening to their characters or imposing gross imagery (symbolic offense going directly through the fictional layer to the social layer).
  • Sandra, I'm right there with you! My own mirror story - it's about a magic wand - doesn't match your 4 principles at all, it didn't even have GMs and non-GM players, but it absolutely depended upon an intense and fully-symmetrical shared commitment to treating our imaginary world as real.
  • deets!
  • Seconded!

    And I agree. That mutual commitment to treating the imaginary as real (which, itself, can exist at different levels and different intensities) is a really key aspect of this whole enterprise.

    It’s less clear to me what happens when the commitment isn’t entirely mutual (e.g. the players are convinced it’s “real”, but the GM is consciously creating an illusion, or vice-versa, which also happens), or if the methods used are potentially mixed or conflicting (what if a GM is committed to treating things as real, but doesn’t use “blorby” techniques, for instance - for example, a module which includes some questionable techniques?).

    My impression/guess is that this might be the case often (or at least easily) with this new game Vincent has made, due to the (potential) lower commitment of the volunteer players. Has that been your experience at all, Vincent?
  • Paul, I don't follow your question. You say "that [this] might be the case" and I can't parse what [this] refers to. "Has [that] been your experience" and I can't parse what [that] you mean. Ask again more explicitly?

    But I mean, in The Wizard's Grimoire, the volunteers have to come to agree with each other about every single thing they contribute, which they can only do by discussing it in the open in front of the player. "Hey, what do you think about there being a cake in the fridge? Or no what if there's a pair of pliers in there! That's funny, yeah? Yeah!" Their creative process is always extemporaneous, never particularly committed to anything, there's no possibility otherwise, and there's not even a screen for them to talk behind so the player can politely pretend otherwise.

    -Vincent
  • That’s a good clarification, thanks.

    The “this” and “that” in my question is about a differing level of commitment to treating the fiction as “real” among the participants. How does that dynamic play out in your game? It seems to me that the different participants have different incentives to be invested in the game (kind of like GMs and players do in traditional RPGs).
  • edited June 2019
    Oh, you can't even tell. There's no way to judge anybody's level of commitment to treating imaginary things as real and no reason to try to judge. Presumably everybody does have their own level of commitment inside their own head, I guess, or maybe they're all the same at nil, but it's never figured in any of the games we've played and I don't see how it could.

    Why did you put the quotes around real in "treating the fiction as 'real' "?
  • edited June 2019
    Because he was biting my head off earlier when I was treating the fiction as real, calling me delusional
  • What on earth, though, seriously.

    Paul, we're talking about treating imaginary things as real, not about treating imaginary things as "real." Real, not fake-real. "Treating imaginary things as fake-real" doesn't even make any dang sense.
  • /me quickly goes through her post history to remove any usages of tautological so-called "quotes"
  • There's no way to judge anybody's level of commitment to treating imaginary things as real
    But that's why we have transparency of method though? Game design to make it more clear to the players what comes from a module, what comes from a random table etc. Which wouldn't be needed if the 90s had never happened.
  • I meant, in The Wizard's Grimoire in particular, there's no way to or reason to. As a volunteer in The Wizard's Grimoire, you commit to coming to agreement with the other volunteer and answering the player's questions with answers you find genuinely fun, and as long as you're doing that, your commitment to treating imaginary things as real, or not, or nil, or whatever, is your own business!
  • Right, in that game specifically
  • But also in that game specifically, I was under the impression that you were making things up as you went along. Idk but I kinda use a different brain for that sorta creativity? Maybe not everyone is a living Sybil with a bird's nest for a head like I am
  • Right, it's possible that in The Wizard's Grimoire everybody always has the exact same level of commitment to treating imaginary stuff as real, which is, we are not committing to that in any way to any extent.

    But I need to tell you my magic wand story, now it's super on topic. One second...
  • edited June 2019
    Okay so the story is that Meguey Baker, Emily Care Boss and I had been playing Ars Magica together for a decade or so, in various groups with various other people, and now the three of us undertook to play a radically co-GMed, live-negotiated, freeform version. Our principles going into it were (a) everybody's fully committed to treating the imaginary stuff as real, in every way possible, and (b) nobody's entitled to dismiss anyone else's vision of the imaginary stuff. Challenge, yes, when necessary; dismiss, never.

    This would have been, I dunno, 2003, 2004, something like that.

    Our wizards had come into possession of a small collection of magical items. Meg, Emily and I brainstormed or otherwise generated a list of them, with no more information per item than "an embroidered shirt" or "a polished copper bowl." One of the items was a bone wand. We'd established that they'd come from the storehouse of a wizards' tower abandoned by its wizards, or something like that, and that's all we knew.

    My wizard undertook to figure out what the bone wand was.

    We had nothing prepped, we all knew that there was nothing prepped. No tier 1. We didn't have a ruleset for this, beyond me saying what my wizard did and Meg and Emily telling me what happened. Any one of us could have decided and pronounced what the wand was, but nobody wanted to, we wanted to wait and see what my wizard could find out about it. No tier 2. We had a strong, shared working understanding of the constraints and structure of Ars Magica's complicated fictional magic system, so this would form the basis of our tier 3 improvisation.

    So here's my wizard, wandering around, waving this wand at things, working through the possibilities implicit in Ars Magica's in-fiction magic system. Meg and Emily are answering my wizard's actions whimsically at first, within those same bounds, then naturally starting to build organically on their collective previous answers.

    What happened in the real world was, at the same moment, with no communication between us, Meg's, Emily's and my imaginations converged on the same solution to the pattern they'd been whimsically / intuitively / symbolically / aesthetically creating.

    What it felt like was, the wand was real, and we all realized at the same moment what it really was.

    I mean, this was what we'd committed to, we were working together to make it happen. Going forward from that point, we trusted it more, and the more we trusted it the more it happened, and the more it happened the more we trusted it. Everything in that game felt really really real.
  • edited June 2019
    So for me, making things up as we go isn't incompatible with committing to treat them as though they're real.

    But either way, committing to treat the imaginary things as though they're real just isn't what you do in The Wizard's Grimoire!
  • edited June 2019
    Oh, you can't even tell. There's no way to judge anybody's level of commitment to treating imaginary things as real and no reason to try to judge.
    Well, you're right, of course, technically speaking, but there are lots of tells. (And an easy one is just to say so out loud, as Sandra alludes! "Hey, this isn't real, so let's just change what the mirror does!" -> That's a pretty clear statement of where a player stands on the issue, for a simple example.)

    I'm thinking it might particularly come into play when players switch over from session to session (or whatever interval of play/time), and show itself that way. (How is the second group of volunteers' approach different from the first, for instance?)

    Why did you put the quotes around real in "treating the fiction as 'real' "?
    I probably shouldn't have! It was my way of marking that we've been using the word "real" to refer to a million different things, but I was using it rather loosely here. (It's not hiding some deep-semiotic meaning or anything! You're right that my statement reads more clearly without the scare quotes.)
    Because he was biting my head off earlier when I was treating the fiction as real, calling me delusional
    Hey, now! No need for that.

    "Treating the fiction as real" = great! "This fictional thing is actually real" = delusional.

    I just wanted to make sure no one was saying the latter. No one was, so we're all good now.
  • (OK, so you had radical transparency of method, which, great)

    So if that wand could feel real: what is it that makes it things sometimes feel unreal? Before the "mirror story" I had never felt something like that and now it happens every session…?
    So for me, making things up as we go isn't incompatible with committing to treat them as though they're real.
    So what is the secret ingredient to this realness, this tangibility? Is it the symmetry?
    But either way, committing to treat the imaginary things as though they're real just isn't what you do in The Wizard's Grimoire!
    I had the wrong impression because I thought you had a grimoire that you treated as real. I didn't read it yet because I want to try the game
  • Uh well I mean...

    Please do treat the grimoire as real, if you want to! Or else just treat it as an imaginary thing with rules, that you want to unlock and read.

    I think you can agree to something, go along with it, without committing to treat it as real.

  • What it felt like was, the wand was real, and we all realized at the same moment what it really was.
    Great story! And this experience is very familiar to me. Love it when that happens. And, yes, it's entirely and completely anti-blorb, but not necessarily incompatible with blorb.

    In a way, it can happen with different distributions of authority, too. Like if a player (in a traditional setup) suddenly feels that things just HAVE to be a certain way, because it's so intuitively right, and the GM and the group accede/agree/start to see it the same way.

    I remember someone's story about a Middle Earth game where a hero wanted to fight a Balrog. There was a sudden and intuitive understanding that, hey, you can do it, sure, but you don't get to do that without sacrificing your life in the process. Since that felt so *right* in the context of Middle Earth, there was instant agreement at the table from all sides: yes, this is how it is.
  • god i hate myself rn
  • Great story! And this experience is very familiar to me. Love it when that happens. And, yes, it's entirely and completely anti-blorb, but not necessarily incompatible with blorb.
    The anti-blorb is illusionism

  • Wait wait wait Sandra I've been neglecting it but it's right there in your answer to Paul in the mommy mommy link.

    The answer is offscreen canon game-state.

    Oh my god this is exciting. So exciting. Thank you! Can I mow your lawn?
  • that was a last second save i was just about to post:
    Lumpley,
    you invited me to look at it from the POV of game state & with it you also get the POV of blorb & gloracle

    I bought the game & I promised to play it

    but. that's my take. that i want to play games where it's for real
  • When you are doing that in an RPG (saying “from now on there is heaven pie are raiders”), you are injecting entities into the diegesis which is the exact interaction I want our newly carved out design space to moderate.
  • That's pretty interesting, Vincent!

    How does offscreen canon game-state come into play with your Ars Magica game? Or Tier 2 truths?
  • edited June 2019
    Sandra I think you've turned me around on my throwaway about The Wizard's Grimoire, too.

    Have you looked yet at The Barbarian's Bloody Quest? Or the Three Scrolls of Whatsisname?

    If you choose one of those that you don't care to play, and read its secret text, what you'll find is that it includes new exertions, magic items, jokes, sub-games, setups and spikes, all good and worthwhile stuff to discover and add to the game...

    But I suddenly don't think that's all there is to it. I think you're right. It almost doesn't matter what the contents are. The fact that it's offscreen canon game-state matters all by itself!

    Hot hecking dang.

    edit: Actually I'm telling lies about The Barbarian's Bloody Quest's secret text, it's not new exertions or magic items, it's for the volunteers to invent wizards out of. But it is jokes, and it super, duper is offscreen canon game-state.
  • The issue of "what kinds of persistent truths/facts exist, regardless of who is describing/imagining them" is a very interesting one, and quite relevant to the Grimoire game.

    How much difference does it make when those truths/facts are shared among people, as opposed to, say, one person pre-committing to facts in blorby fashion, but just holding it all inside her head?
  • I read somewhere once in a context where it was persuasive that the word "real" is often used in a relative way, to reflect that a thing is somehow more authentic, genuine, or essential than similar other things. "Do we have real fake cream?" "No, only the powder." Thus, calling something "real" is often a normative move or an act of judgment on the part of tbe speaker. With respect to roleplaying, notions of authenticity are often bound up in judgments about the right relationship between in-character and out-of-character knowledge, even though in most cases the extent to which a player is bringing OOC concerns into play is invisible to other players. Similarly, the extent to which the GM's inventions are improvised versus "prepped" is often difficult to discern. And in fact, learning that a certain detail was improvised has been said to be occasionally disappointing, at least to some players, perhaps because that detail is thus then somehow less "real" than it was before.

    On the other hand, knowing the "realness" of a particular fictional detail can be used as a guide to how to engage with it on a metacommunicative level, although I'd argue that that's bad practice or at least a missed opportunity.
  • OK I'll read through the BBQ now
  • Hohohoho!!! this is awesome
  • Don't worry honey I won't give the punch away
  • I’ll stand by my previous assertion from another thread. It’s not that there are things off-screen. It’s that off-screen things necessarily include relationships (or the characters are fictionally positioned in relation to them).

    If me and my buddies spend an hour discussing the mystery and trying to solve it, but the GM is just sat there grinning, secretly taking our ideas as his own, then we’re not ‘really’ solving a mystery, we’re pretending to solve a mystery.

    It’s not that the mirror is ‘real’ because it’s prepared. It’s that our choice to drag the mirror around is ‘play pretend’ if the GM can just decide what the mirror does. It renders our decision inconsequential.

    If those are the kind of decisions we care about anyway.
  • R-ships a) between persons ? Or interaction with b) the material ? I think (a) but want to make sure.
  • @DeReel: n-ary predicates
  • But I don't necessarily agree. Discovery worx because there are missable things. Which the offscreen is full of.
  • Protruding attributes by which characters can take them ? I don't get it.
  • Hi @AlexanderWhite,
    It’s not that the mirror is ‘real’ because it’s prepared. It’s that our choice to drag the mirror around is ‘play pretend’ if the GM can just decide what the mirror does. It renders our decision inconsequential.
    If the characters had truly zero information about the nature of the magic of the mirror (including if it had any magic at all), IOW you had no information on which to base your decision to "drag the mirror around", how does the time at which certain traits about the mirror are created render your decision inconsequential?

    Say that the mirror had only 2 relationships that were established ahead of time between said mirror and the rest of Setting. The first that the mirror was mounted on a wall in such a way that it could be easily moved. The second was that the mirror was covered with an opaque cloth.

    In this hypothetical case, your decision was based on no information about the nature of the mirror to begin with, was it not? What part of your reasoning was invalidated? Say the powers of mirror were settled upon like in Vincent's current game with two players discussing the possibilities in front of you before settling on the powers, how does that invalidate or make it inconsequential? Since we know nothing about the mirror and thus nothing about the consequences of taking it or deciding to try and use it (despite having no information to suggest it is more than just a vanilla mirror) what part of the choice to take it is rendered inconsequential?

    I'm trying to sort the chain of logic, if you will.

    Best,

    Jay
  • Yeah I meant anything off-screen, not just people. Although 2097 is right. If discovery is your thing then it’s ‘not’ really about positioning, except in a really trivial way.
  • Jay, this thread has more deets on how and why deciding the mirror post hoc invalidates the player's choices. Also:image?
  • That H→D, too, is an invalidation of the players choices might not be obvious, but here's the reasoning. Even if H→D makes the fight against the bulliwugs 20% cooler and even if it rewards the party for a cool idea, it makes their behaviour when they first encountered the mirror a bit meaningless. They chose to treat the mirror as dangerous and they invested dearly in that. By doing that, they took the risk that it might've been unnecessary (or even counter-productive, if there was some info there in the mirror). The mirror scene had a tension because they risked failure. By removing that failure, the players behavior was invalidated.
  • edited June 2019
    @Silmenume

    Well I don’t know the full details of the 2097 game but presumably dragging the mirror around had a cost. Revealing it in combat had a cost.

    It’s kind of irrelevant now anyway, I retract my previous post, 2097 said it’s about discovery and I consider that good enough to invalidate my argument.

    edit: cross posted
  • edited June 2019
    My royal road to Sandra's theory was to treat the "facts" of prep (including off-screen stuff) as "rules" with the same weight and reality as the other rules in a game. This had interesting knock on effects, like "utterances create new rules" and "when two facts/rules interact with each other, the result is handled by a third rule, including rules generated as a result of this need." That "there is a pie in the fridge" and "when you trigger Go Aggro, roll +Hard" end up being the same thing in terms of how the game state interacts with them.

    This isn't the Sandra endorsed position, just my way into becoming a disciple. As I said elsewhere, if this Golden Path doesn't work, find your own Leto :smile:

    Most of Sandra's procedures lock down the game state so that subjective content can't be entered into the game except where it has no interaction with any other fact/rule. The principle of saliency (where wallpaper becomes salient) is another way of stating this.

    I believe with Sandra that this changes the game experience quite a bit, and I at least have some idea of which I speak thanks to my two encounters with her game as a player. I have one example, it's a minor one but it kinda showed how I changed the way I played because of the principles of her game.

    At one point, it became important to know how much my character weighed. This couldn't be wallpaper, because the reason it was important was that it interacted with a rule about how hard it was to jump a space.* So I had to follow the fact/rule generation procedures. In AW, I'd have been okay with declaring, "Birdsong's a pretty tall and husky gal, so she probably weighs on the high side of 12 stone." And that's okay; that's one of the procedures we use in AW.** But in 2097e that wasn't an option in this case (because of the above-mentioned saliency), so I asked how to randomly generate my character's weight; we looked it up, and I had my answer.

    This felt natural to me in the circumstances. There was also...a certain amount of discovery*** of my character that wrapped into the process; I hadn't known this detail about my PC, so now I did. (That the weight I rolled was unexceptional isn't the point, of course.) It certainly created a strong sense of verisimilitude: okay, Birdsong weighs this much, there's no way she's strong enough to do this activity easily, we need to take steps to make sure she doesn't fall to her death****.

    Theoretically, I could get the same feeling from AW; "Okay, Birdsong, you're big and husky so I need you to Act Under Fire to climb through the tank hatch because you're a bigger target for longer." I don't think it's a question of individual examples; I think it's a question of the sheer accumulation of detail and a world that clicks on whether the PCs interact with it or not, just as if (as I said elsewhere) even if nobody in the AW campaign ever Opened Their Mind, the Psychic Maelstrom would still exist and that move would always remain a potential. It's easy to see that would be true (just like the Grappling rules of your given game of choice still exist even if nobody would touch them with a used 10' pole.) My way in to Sandra's POV was realizing that the exact same thing was true of "Room 22 has goblins in it." Uh, that and the procedures for generating new facts/rules matter and can indeed affect the subjective experience of exploring them. Just like the subjective experience of playing/listening to jazz is different from playing/listening to classical music, which is an analogy I might discuss were this post not way to bloody long already :)

    * Actually it might not have been jumping, but it was definitely about traversing a gap over a dangerous fall.
    ** Note that once "Birdsong is big and husky" has been established by any rules procedure, including AW's "the player makes it up" we can't contradict that later (save by normal error correction rules that Sandra's game has too.)
    *** That was kind of a theme for the session for me; I learned a lot about Birdsong, and there was more bleed than usual for me (at least in an adventure-type game). Whether that was because of the way the game worked or other reasons is something I'm sorting out.
    **** Well, she was 9th Level so maybe not death, but I have vague memories of wounding tables and other bad things that could happen to her, so no way was I gonna risk it :)
  • Jay, this thread has more deets on how and why deciding the mirror post hoc invalidates the player's choices. Also:image?
    Appreciate the link and will read it when I get a few minutes.
    The anti-blorb is illusionism
    This statement invalidates much of Narrativist and Sim game play and design. Please, enough with the One True Wayism. I would have thought that Vincent's story of the Bone Wand would have put an end to that kind of thinking.

    Yes, you have a wonderful design and set of Techniques that you and your players really like and get really into. To claim that your particular game system (or game play philosophy) is the only One True Way to play is synecdoche.

    The sheer effrontery of arguing the conclusion that all non-blorb play is Illusionism is beyond the pale. Ugh...

    Best,

    Jay
  • 100% certain Sandra is NOT saying that all non-blorb play is Illusionism.

    Also pretty sure she makes a 3-ways distinction between blorb, not-blorb, and anit-blorb.
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