Getting around to (one of) the point(s).

So, 10 or so months ago I started Sin Aesthetics.

I did this post on immersionand this post on authorial intent and this post on push and pull.

None of them were supposed to be very groundbreaking, they were just setup posts to get everybody onto the page of a few things I wanted to talk about. The next one was supposed to combine some of these elements to having a discussion about how one could use pull techniques to help immersion-heavy players cope functionally and productively in push-heavy nar games. This seems like it’s kind of anti-climactic now after all the discussion that’s gone on about p/p. At least the post can be much shorter now, because we won’t have to sort through examples.

Basically, the point is that if the goal of nar games is to create drama by addressing premise, and if differential techniques (p/p) can equally be used to do this in a valid way then those techniques can be (and are) used intentionally to create a personal fit to a shared game, even if the game fosters a playstyle that is less friendly to the player using the technique. I’m an immersive player and find that many nar games with explicit push systems (read: mechanically supported) often interrupt my ability to immerse because the system requires me to toggle between IC-head and OOC-head too long or too frequently, or because they break (personal) character continuity over issues of ownership (e.g. winning narration rights).

The design intent over many of these explicit structures exist to create what matters. What matters might be drama through conflict, or to highlight the address of premise, or to reward giving over to the story. It might be simply to pre-negotiate the social system of the game so that there is less work or negotiation required to produce functional and enjoyable play. In any case, they are designed to produce.

In some cases, where the explicit structures prevent or deter a player from fully socketing to their locus of enjoyment in a game (so for me, to character, emotionally) the player can premptively produce what the explicit structure has been built to require in order to eliminate or minimize the negative impact of interacting with that structure, while still remaining functional and socially responsible to the game and the play group.

For example, say one explicit structure in the game is: once you have played to a point where crisis is coming, the players roll dice and the winner is given sole authority to narrate the outcome of the crisis. The point of this structure is to provide a means of resolving conflict and a clear direction of social authority. A player that sockets emotionally via character might find this structure impedes or prevents personal enjoyment in the game because when they lose conflicts the winning player is free to narrate what the loser’s character can do, and this creates static in the player’s personal sense of continuity with the character, knocking the plug out of the socket.

(Some of you might want to tell me that if this is the case, the player shouldn’t play this game. Sure, optimally we’d all be playing games with groups and in systems that fit us perfectly 100% of the time, but the reality is that we don’t. Sometimes we play games that fit other people’s preferences more than our own, because playing with the person is more important to us than the system we play in. Sometimes, everything else in the system makes it worth running into the occasional hump.)

So in this case, what can the player do to premptively produce what the system is looking for so as to lessen the impact of or eliminate the hump? Well, since it’s fresh, Brand’s moment of crisis post offers us one way. Since the structure is very FatE, a skilled player could pull to resolve the conflict and determine authority using social DitM. In order to succeed in the pull, the player must win the buy in of the other player, and in giving buy in (especially in a context in which going to the FatE is his mechanical right in the game) the other player is exhibiting an acceptance to what the pulling player has done (any of this could be an OOC explicit negotiation or an IC negotiation). Both players are happy, the premise has been addressed to the satisfaction of both players, and the drama rolls on. The transaction is functional and productive, and the pulling player has not had to experience the static produced by the FatE structure.

This kind of thing isn’t always going to be possible, of course, and could take considerable skill and finesse to make work, but it’s something worth thinking about.

It’s also an interesting consideration to take when designing. As the designer, if you want people to be able to use their personal skills to compensate for areas of your system they might have problems with, does your explicit system make room for them to do so? If you do not want this, how do you constrain this ability in your design? Is there other things we can do to expand the support for multiple playtypes, or multiple sockets or whatever? Do we even want to?

Anyway, it’s something I’m still musing on, so I thought I’d put it out there.

25 thoughts on “Getting around to (one of) the point(s).”

  1. Mo,

    Let me restate what I think you’re saying and you tell me if I’m right!

    You’re saying something like this:

    When you design a game, each rule is designed to encourage a certain kind of behavior. Often, the specific rule isn’t the only way to produce that same bit of beahavior. Sometimes the rules of a game use a method to achieve a specific goal that is disruptive to some players.

    One solution is to figure out what the intended goal of the rule is, and provide another way of achieving that goal.

    Something like that?

    Thomas

  2. Mo,

    Actually, not at all. In fact, this is really cool to me. And it’s something I’ve only begun to edge toward in my own thinking in the past month or two, prompted at least in part by the push/pull discussions.

    So, I guess I’m saying: Mo, this is cool stuff, and thanks for getting us here 🙂

    Thomas

  3. To be very blunt, Mo, I think the theory community has a substantial number of vocal members that very much hate the way you play and want to destroy it as even a possible theoretical construction.

    Was that a rude thing to say? Perhaps. But is it true? Probably. The whole business of folding Push/Pull into modes of resolution? That an attempt to essentially destroy the distinctiveness of what you have to say by marginalizing on within a totalist theoretical construct. And of course, you don’t have to swing a cat much to find out about how much immersionism is hated.

    I think you’re probably quite aware of this, given my faith in your intelligence and some of the things I’ve heard from Brand. But this also is pretty indicative of the nature of these problems. The rules are getting you out of the space you want to be in because on some level, they’re informed by a position hostile to your own. I think, poerhaps, it’s useful to ask whether or not this kind of compromise/dialogue is even useful in the long term, since it’s against attempts to (nicely or not) invalidate your experience.

  4. Malcolm! Hey! Long time no talk.

    Assuming you’re right, and the structures I’m talking about are informed by a position hostile to my own and are an attempt to invalidate my experience, I’m a little confused as to why you (of all people) would try and deter me from initiating dialogue to expose that kind of aggressive subversion and devise strategies to undermine or co-opt it.

    In light of that, why would I walk away from a chance to expose bias? Why would I give up the opportunity to question whether systematic exclusion in design has occured deliberately? If it’s determined not to be such, why would I not work with people to inform deliberate choices that allow for greater inclusivity?

    Love ya, Malcolm (and it is good to hear from you) but what I hear in this reply is: “Stop talking.” just as clearly as I heard it when people told me “pull doesn’t exist”. While I would be the last person in the community to claim marginalization is anything but tangibly real, and know full well that there are some people in it that dissapprove of my insistance on explicit discourse of the social dynamics of power and means by which it can underscore bias and exclusion, I sense that I see this as less rampantly pandemic (or at least less intentional) than you do.

    I do not see the Push/Pull as being “folded” into resolution. If Brand or Vincent had said P/P is, and only is DatE/DitM, I would have vehemently disagreed with them. What Brand did say is “However, I don’t think that DitM/DatE is all of push and pull…P/P was also concerned with emotional and social issues and how those effect game play.”

    I see the DatE/DitM discussion as a means to connect a section of a jigsaw puzzle (the trees, say) over to that section of sky over there. I don’t feel that its distinctiveness has been destroyed in any way, I just think that a bridge (temporary or permanent) has been established to allow the horizon to be opened.

    And immersion? Well immersion as a theoretical concept (rather than an actuality) kind of deserves to be hated, not because it isn’t real and valid and functional and fun, but because as a term it is a miasma of different playstyles that really shouldn’t be captured under the same header. It’s theoretical quicksand.

    Eventually you and I and the rest of the community might get to a place where we can sort those styles out, and reach a clarity of discussion that won’t put people’s backs up so violently – and allow some actual work to replace all the shouting.

  5. I’m not a game writer, nor a formalist game designer, but it seems to me that the point you are making relative to game design is in part a call for bringing back the traditionalist game design concept of “If this rule doesn’t work well for you, don’t use it, or modify it into something you do like.” The indie formalist version of this rule would be “If this rule doesn’t work well for you, use this alternate rule instead.”

    This strikes me as a very good design principle, although I can see why game writers might shy away from it. Designing a base system and an alternate system for people who don’t like the base system is at least twice as much work (since you have to make sure the two systems integrate well in lots of different ways).

    As a game designer (in Vincent’s sense) who is not a writer, my only concern needs to be with the people I actually play with, so customizing system in lots of directions simultaneously to meet their needs is much more manageable (and can be done on a purely ad hoc basis). To some extent, it is possible to tailor the game so much that each set of players within the game is playing by a different set of rules. The systems for all of the sets of players need to mesh with each other reasonably well, but that is a largely achievable goal.

    I think, to some extent, that rules such as DitV’s “Say yes or roll the dice” do constitute an alternate pair of systems: a “no-blocking” informal system wrapped around a confrontational formal system. I’ve run an entire session of Dogs without once rolling dice (we didn’t make it through the entire town, but then we didn’t in the next session where many more dice were rolled either), so it is a viable system played that way too.

    Interesting stuff.

  6. Hi Charles!

    You’ve actually anticipated me. 😉

    One of the things I wanted to talk about eventually was by growing facination with the concept of modularizing design to effectively accomodate play preferences and styles. In 1000 Stories, Brand and I have filled the system full of toggles and switches that allow on the spot customization that would make the system pop-up or receed according to the focus character’s preferences. We’re still fine tuning things, but I have a lot of faith in the concept.

    I don’t think we can create a game that will make everybody happy, but expanding the play arena more formally is something that has a lot of room for exploration.

  7. In response to Malcolm, it is also worth noting that Vincent’s demonstration of the relationship between DitM/DatE and P/P was intended as a way of communicating the relevance of P/P to the P/P hesitant/hostile Forge theory crowd, not an attempt to shoe-horn P/P into Forge Theory. I very much look forward to Vincent’s post directed towards those who get P/P on P/P dynamics in relation to his AM derived freeform game (particularly as a participant in a not-entirely-unrelated AM derived freeform game).

  8. Mo,

    Very cool.

    When I first got back involved in theory discussions, I kept asking Vincent, “Okay, show me some neat mechanic-y bits I can incorporate into my informal system,” and he gave me one or two (Otherkind dice being the main one we routinely use), but he assured me that most of the Forgist games are way too tight and coherent to be usefully incorporated into an existing game (and spoke from personal experience, apparently, their attempts to play out a bit of their AM quasi-freeform using My Life with Master failed pretty badly, as the flavors just didn’t mix).

    So I’m intrigued to see a modern design that is intended to be toggly.

    Actually, although I don’t know if such a thing is at all feasable, a modern formal system that was designed to be extensible and modifiable, to have plug-ins and sub-systems, would be fascinating: something created by multiple independent authors, building off of a single platform, allowing players to switch back and forth between the sub-systems: “I think this scene would work well using DitV style conflict resolution, but then the next set of scenes would be better handled with Capes mechanics,” “Okay, but lets do a round of Sun,Moon,Stars narration as set-up first.”

  9. Malcolm! Hey! Long time no talk.

    Assuming you’re right, and the structures I’m talking about are informed by a position hostile to my own and are an attempt to invalidate my experience, I’m a little confused as to why you (of all people) would try and deter me from initiating dialogue to expose that kind of aggressive subversion and devise strategies to undermine or co-opt it.

    No no, that’s not really what I’m trying to say. What I’m saying is that I wonder where you could go *without* working within that structure.

    I feel that one of the most important elements of discourse within a field is the dialogue between developed systems of thought, above and beyond a personal, marginal dialogue with a single intellectual edifice. So when I see something like Push/Pull I have to wonder wether or not it ought to be one of the keystones of a separate group of ideas, and whether or not it should, in itself, be appraoching from a position of power within its own framework *instead* of offering it to the dominant form of discourse.

    Love ya, Malcolm (and it is good to hear from you) but what I hear in this reply is: “Stop talking.” just as clearly as I heard it when people told me “pull doesn’t exist”.

    *Please* don’t get that impression at all. All I’m saying is that:

    A) If you recognize issues there, there are going to be some difficulties arising from them.

    B) If there are other avenues you can use to get around this, I think you should use them.

    I do wonder whether you can completely explore your ideas in a community that is overwhelmingly devoted to a totalist theory of gaming, but I would hardly say that a dialogue is useless.

    I do not see the Push/Pull as being “folded” into resolution. If Brand or Vincent had said P/P is, and only is DatE/DitM, I would have vehemently disagreed with them. What Brand did say is “However, I don’t think that DitM/DatE is all of push and pull…P/P was also concerned with emotional and social issues and how those effect game play.”

    Well, Brand is a pretty smart guy:-)

    I see the DatE/DitM discussion as a means to connect a section of a jigsaw puzzle (the trees, say) over to that section of sky over there. I don’t feel that its distinctiveness has been destroyed in any way, I just think that a bridge (temporary or permanent) has been established to allow the horizon to be opened.

    Maybe. At the same time, are the subtleties of that dialogue going to be remembered when they are retold within dominant theory? Or is it just going to be a footnote in the way that years of gender discussion has, in the end, merited subjection within the social contract concept?

    And immersion? Well immersion as a theoretical concept (rather than an actuality) kind of deserves to be hated, not because it isn’t real and valid and functional and fun, but because as a term it is a miasma of different playstyles that really shouldn’t be captured under the same header. It’s theoretical quicksand.

    I have to disagree with you here, because to my mind, it breaks a rule of functionality in theory. People invent folk-terms like “immersion” because they reflexively experience and define these things. It is incumbent upon the theorist to ask why this is and to use that as the locus for thinking, instead of saying, “There’s this word, so let’s talk about what it *really* is,” as if it wasn’t performing a function to begin with. As if, y’know, the people talking about immersion were being dumb.

    Eventually you and I and the rest of the community might get to a place where we can sort those styles out, and reach a clarity of discussion that won’t put people’s backs up so violently – and allow some actual work to replace all the shouting.

    I think that the current state of affairs will, unfortunately, require some textual violence, straight up. And it should be gladly meted out for the sake of the whole enterprise. The heart of current theory is based on an entrenched totalist model that entertains the biases of its most vocal adherents. That’s one reason why I’m not suggesting you should reject the rest of the community. My question is: Are you willing to make other people feel uncomfortable?

  10. Hey Malcolm,

    Phew! I know it’s been, like 10? 11? years since we talked, but for a minute in your first reply you sounded like a different person altogether. Now you’re sounding much more like you.

    I do wonder whether you can completely explore your ideas in a community that is overwhelmingly devoted to a totalist theory of gaming…

    I would wonder the same thing, if I thought that that was the case where I am standing, but I don’t. I think the “community” that you refer to is not the “community” that I refer to.

    I assume you’re talking The Forge. The community that I interact with on a regular basis are either Never Forgites (E.g. Jess Pease, Jessica Hammer, Nancy, Me) mostly lapsed Forgites (E.g. Jonathan Walton, Chris Chinn, Shreyas),a hand full of Forgites who fall into three categories (these are categories in my head, so nobody get mad here) Heretical Forgites (E.g. Brand and Christain) Borderline Forgites (Meg Baker & Emily Care Boss), to a lesser extent, Core Forgites (E.g. Vincent Baker, Matt Wilson) and the community on Story Games, which insists it’s not a Theory community at all. That’s hardly a uniform front.

    So when I see something like Push/Pull I have to wonder wether or not it ought to be one of the keystones of a separate group of ideas, and whether or not it should, in itself, be appraoching from a position of power within its own framework *instead* of offering it to the dominant form of discourse.

    I don’t think that the two things can or need to be mutually exclusive, unless I’m going to keep it to myself. I post things I think I should post on my own blog. I use my own language, I do my own thing.

    Many of the folks I interact with are intrigued by some of the things I have to say, but they come from a Forge background and so they have been taught to speak in the dominant discourse, and this means that even though they may or may not be branching out or away from Forge models, they still need to evaluate what they hear against what they know in order to reach a point of understanding.

    Just because it has been translated into the dominant discourse, doesn’t mean that it’s been lost, or that I won’t, over here in my corner of the world keep talking about it in my own language.

    The benefit of it is, that a lot of those people now are beginning to speak my language too, and they are producing their own sparks and ideas that are growing the open application of the things I am talking about, not in my way, not in the Forgey way, but in their own hybrid way, and the effort of that extension has, been, for the most part, valuable if not always particularly fun.

    are the subtleties of that dialogue going to be remembered when they are retold within dominant theory?

    Should I care? (Really – Honest question.) I mean, so I’ll be a footnote over there. I’ll be a main body of work over here, and maybe the people who, like me, can’t find a home over there will come check me out.

    In the end, revolutionizing the Forge isn’t my goal. Opening a dialogue about the social pathology of gaming is, and I’m being at least quasi successful at it. I’d also like to design a different kind of game, and I’m certainly doing that. I’d love for there to be others who create games that I will like better because of the dialogue I opened up. It looks like I’m starting to be successful there too, maybe.

    I think that the current state of affairs will, unfortunately, require some textual violence, straight up. And it should be gladly meted out for the sake of the whole enterprise.

    This is where you and I very much differ. I think that part of the problem on the current forums of discussion out there is due to textual violence. My general sense is that some strongly and clearly spoken textual ahisma is what is actually needed.

    My question is: Are you willing to make other people feel uncomfortable?

    Heh.

    If you think I’m not already making people uncomfortable, then you’re not paying attention (or simply are not reading the screens I’m reading).

    p.s. Brand told me today that you got married in the fall, and that you have a new step-son. Congrats! I was thrilled to hear it. I told him that I thought you’d make a great dad. Everything blissful on that front?

  11. Charles,

    Yes! I’ve give that some thought too, though it seems to big to tackle at the moment.

    It would be interesting to get together a small, tight group of folks who have played and know a whole whack of the nar games well, to do just that kind of thing with what’s existing out there, just for fun.

    I agree that many of the games are to bound up in their context to translate into a patchwork design, but they might produce interesting and unexpected results when put into a different context, and therefore might teach us something interesting.

  12. Vincent,

    I feel the same way 😛

    I mean, the trip we’re going on is fricken amazing, and I couldn’t pass it up, but I was actually really looking forward to it (which in itself is a miracle, given my past feelings of cons). That C&P should debut there without me? That you all should cavort and run amok without the Brand and Mo? A crime, that is.

  13. …a skilled player could pull to resolve the conflict and determine authority using social DitM. In order to succeed in the pull, the player must win the buy in of the other player, and in giving buy in (especially in a context in which going to the FatE is his mechanical right in the game) the other player is exhibiting an acceptance to what the pulling player has done (any of this could be an OOC explicit negotiation or an IC negotiation). Both players are happy, the premise has been addressed to the satisfaction of both players, and the drama rolls on.

    For clarification, Mo, are you talking about using Drama resolution instead of Fortune, or using Drama to set up things so that, when the dice are rolled, the ensuing narration is something that fits the players’ sensibilities?

    Cause using Drama-ish Pull-ness to set up the Fortune seems, to me, to be Play As Normal. Using Dramapull instead of Fortune seems, to me, to be subverting the formal system by means of social pressure.

    Which is it, am I missing something, and can you clarify?

    Danke!

  14. Josh,

    Drama instead of Fortune. It’s giving something the other player will want to say yes to before it comes to dice. It might be subverting the formal system, I guess, but that would depend on the system. If the system is, for example, “Say Yes or roll dice” then it’s not subverting it at all.

    I’d also say that “social pressure” is a loaded term. There’s always going to be some social negotiation to get to the point of fortune, otherwise, how do you get to a “No” point?

    I’m illustrating the difference between: “I choose to do the thing that opposes.” “I just choose whithout thinking whether it opposes or compliments.” and “I choose to do something we’ll both want.”

  15. Hey, if we use words that aren’t loaded, Malcolm won’t get his textual violence. 😉

    Now, when you’re talking about a pull in this case, you are talking about something that both sides really and truly want, not something that one side wants and the other side lets them have because they don’t want to argue over it any further. Yes? Because while I can see the glorious potential of the good pull, I think I’ve experienced a whole lot of bad, pestering, whiney pulls that are best described as “social pressure” rather than collaboration. So, unless I’m off base here, we’re talking about a player using a mutually beneficial and mutually appreciated pull rather than resorting to fortune resolution.

    Now, in some instances, as in Dogs with its “Say Yes or Roll Dice” rule, this sort of sidestep is, indeed, Play As Normal. Dogs allows for this — up to a point. It seems to me, though, that Dogs is built on the assumption that Say Yes is reserved for stuff that doesn’t especially matter, or situations where dice would be an anticlimax to what’s already been narrated.

    Rolling Dice, on the other hand, is reserved for the stuff that matters, and the GM is directed to guide play and players towards conflicts, to test and challenge them and to continually ask, “Is that true now? How about now? How about now?” The fortune resolution as provided structures that continual question, channeling play into (reductively put) “How far are you willing to go to stand up for your belief?” If the fortune resolution is sidestepped entirely and is consistently avoided throughout an entire town, that structure doesn’t get used. Could the players cooperatively and collaboratively replicate the one-ups-manship and pressure of escalation without the dice? Maybe. Could they do it reliably? Perhaps.

    Now, I’m going to just skip the “But are you playing Dogs at that point?” question, because it’s a moot point. Whether or not your game at home matches the game at Vincent’s table is pretty much totally irrelevant. We’re talking about your game at your table and stuff that you can do to have an enjoyable experience with your friends.

    Here’s the thing: were I at the table with you, and you made a habit of avoiding the fortune resolution, that would start to annoy me. It would especially annoy me if we got into any player-versus-player situation where I want to use the fortune resolution and the stats that I am provided with and you want to instead use drama resolution and social interaction.

    Which is not to say that I dislike drama resolution or social interaction; in fact, when I sit down at the table to play a game where those play a large part of the game, I’m all about playing with those tools. But if I sit down to play a game with one set of tools, and you sit down to play the “same” game but want to use a different set of tools, we’re headed straight for some disconnect.

    So I’ve taken a long-winded and winding approach to get to the point where I ask if the option of using drama-based pulls rather than relying strictly on the fortune resolution is something that is part of the social contract from the start, or do you consider this tactic kosher for any game you play in?

  16. We’re talking about a player using a mutually beneficial and mutually appreciated pull rather than resorting to fortune resolution

    Well, yeah, of course we are, have I ever given you reason to think that I would make a post advocating that it’s a good healthy strategy to bitch and moan or use emotional blackmail to get your way or is this just a reader baggage bias?

    It seems to me, though, that Dogs is built on the assumption that Say Yes is reserved for stuff that doesn’t especially matter, or situations where dice would be an anticlimax to what’s already been narrated.

    I disagree. Strongly disagree.

    The Yes is there because what matters is that dice only be rolled when there is a reason for the dice to be rolled. So if the drama is good and premise is addressed and we can both agree on what’s happening in the fiction, then essentially there is nothing at stake, and the dice should not be rolled.

    Consider this: I don’t mind my character completely losing face in public. You want to make my character lose face. You push it to a conflict. We set the stakes, I give as soon as the dice are rolled. Would that be more satisfying? What would be the point?

    In the example, I used in the post, I said that the puller, pulled drama resolution from the other player and the other player accepted it even though “FatE is his mechanical right in the game” So, the player is getting what he wants, right? The point isn’t making a demand to use one resolution over another, it’s to produce play satisfying enough for both players, so that the other resolution isn’t required.

    But if I sit down to play a game with one set of tools, and you sit down to play the “same” game but want to use a different set of tools, we’re headed straight for some disconnect.

    Yes, that’s absolutely true, but in a sense, it’s what we do every single time we sit down at a table together, isn’t it? The tools in Josh’s social toolbox ≠ Mo’s social toolbox ≠ Brand’s social toolbox ≠ Laura’s social toolbox. That’s one of the reasons I wanted to talk about push and pull in the first place.

    Here’s the thing: were I at the table with you, and I was giving you everything you were asking for and you made a habit of demanding the fortune mechanic just for the sake of interacting with the tool that would seriously start to annoy me. Which one of us is dysfunctional? Neither. It’s a creative/technical agenda issue, plain and simple.

    So yes, this is my long winded answer to say I assume that I can use drama based pulls in any game I play in unless it’s disruptive to someone, and then it becomes an issue of negotiating social contract. Nobody’s ever had so much of a problem with me giving them exactly the kind of drama that they’re looking for to ask me to stop doing it, though.

  17. Josh,

    You said:

    “Which is not to say that I dislike drama resolution or social interaction; in fact, when I sit down at the table to play a game where those play a large part of the game, I’m all about playing with those tools. But if I sit down to play a game with one set of tools, and you sit down to play the “same” game but want to use a different set of tools, we’re headed straight for some disconnect.”

    Right, so both of you need to get on the same page.

    Which brings the question — why should one person get to just assume that their set of tools and ideas about how to play is the priveleged one, the correct one, or the obviously right one?

    If Mo goes to do drama in the middle and you go to do fortune at the end, who says you are right? Who says that your fortune resolution ideas about how to play the game are the ones that everyone else should follow in order to make the game go?

    In other words: isn’t this really all a question of who has the power and how they use it? You can be just as much a socially manipulative ass by rules lawyering, insisting that you want to play the game ‘by the rules’ that are only your interpretation of the rules, and melling and vetching about mechanics as you can by refusing to interact with the mechanics, avoiding conflicts, and short-circuting the system.

    No body gets to be right here. There are just methods of making a game work (or not work) and a need to identify them and why they work (or don’t work) in specific situations, with specific groups, and in the hands of specific people.

    So using drama-based pulls is as kosher in every game as strict reliance on fortune resolution in every game is.

    Of course, I’ve never seen either one actually happen in any game ever. Usually its a mix of both. (In fact, I’d say a pure and total application of either in a real game is probably impossible without some level of dysfunction. I could be wrong, but I’ve neither seen nor heard of a case where a total example of either worked out well.)

  18. Brand:

    Yeah, I’ve never played one without a mix of both either.

    It would be really hard, functional or not, to design mutually desireable options 100% of the time, given that people are what they are (and that we’re talking about the desires of both players and characters). But damn, if you could do that, fuck RPG’s, I think *life* would be easier!

  19. Josh,

    “Here’s what I think: I think I need to see 1000 Stories.”

    Yea, yea, yea….

    I’ll actually get the playtest file done as soon as I finish my current project. One book more, then I’m done and can do it and Lion in Winter.

    Of course, I can’t finish the book until I finish writing lists. Fucking Jason.

  20. In other words: isn’t this really all a question of who has the power and how they use it?

    Meh, sort of, if you want to frame it that way. I look at it more in terms of communication between colllaborators. If we sit down and say, “We’re going to play Dogs in the Vineyard” I don’t think I’m making a power play if I expect to have a lineup of funky dice in front of me. Cause, I mean let’s be frank here, I like playing with fiddly dice. But if we sit down and say, “The game is Dogs in the Vineyard, but we’re not going to resolve every conflict with dice.” then I won’t be expecting my parade of funky dice as much. Dig?

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