Interest Check: Narrative World-Building




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  1. #1
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    Interest Check: Narrative World-Building

    I want to see if there are any potential players out there who are interested in a narrative world-building style game. What do I mean by "narrative" and "world-building?" By "narrative," I mean a game that is based not so much on mechanics as it is on narration by the players. In this sense, I would not be the game master so much as I would be one of the players helping to move the narrative along. Every player would be telling the story and narrating the results of actions. Each post would build upon the narrative and move the plot along. Rather than having challenges which must be overcome through mechanics, the narrative would indicate how the challenges were overcome. In a sense, this would be a collective storytelling effort.

    By "world-building," I mean that the world would be something wholly unique that would be developed over time as the game progresses. For example, one player would narrate that the characters in the story are on an overland journey and come across a roadside shrine to a nature goddess. Another player then reveals the name of the nature goddess to be "Arame," and that another character knows Arame to be a goddess of peace; the character explains how seeing her shrine might be a good omen. Henceforth, it would be established in canon for the world that Arame is a nature goddess of peace and that coming across her shrines is generally considered to be a good omen. Through exposition in the narrative, all players contribute to the known facts about the world (or at least facts as they are perceived).

    This would not be for the powergamer or people who like mechanical games and dice. Instead this is a game for building worlds and practicing writing style. There will probably be a small mechanical basis to it. Perhaps the characters would have simple priority stats ranking their physical, mental, and personality traits. There are a few narrative-focused systems we might consider as well. But it would be far more important to have some general guidelines for character strengths and weaknesses. As a simple example, Faladar might be a talented wizard, but he spends far too much time with his nose in a book and rarely looks at the world around him.

    Is there anyone interested in such a game (if indeed it could be called a game)?
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    Interesting, may I refer you to http://www.enworld.org/forum/talking...ve-system.html in which you submitted a character. Are you trying to accomplish something like that? I was intrigued by the system and never had a chance to test it.
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    Yes, that, or Amber, or another one of a number of other systems which don't use dice. We don't have to use an actual system though. I think a few simple rules would suffice.

    1) We'd need to decide whether an individual player "owns" a character or not. I can imagine each player having multiple characters and they might get attached to the subplots within their characters. And if so we might want to delineate whether or not it is acceptable for another player to cause the characters of another player ill. Some players might be upset by this. Others might not mind.

    2) A guideline for power level needs to be set. Are we playing exceptionally powerful/deific Elric of Melnibone types or more run-of-the-mill hobbit and dwarves type characters? Everyone should agree to abide by that for the most part. The occasional "Gandalf single-handedly takes on the Baalrog" moments could be okay, so long as the group agrees that it involves a kind of sacrifice of the character (like Gandalf's death, not necessarily precluding resurrection).

    3) We should decide on whether there are thematic elements that are right out. For example, is it okay for the characters to discover laser guns and aliens in a fantasy setting a la Expedition to the Barrier Peaks? Do we want swords & sorcery, swashbuckling, medieval politics, science fiction, superhero adventures, etc.?

    I think sorting those basic things out should give us a good guideline for the narrative. If have stats is a deal-breaker for folks, we could use something simple like InSpectres or whatever.
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    I guess there isn't a lot of interest for this. But I'll bump it just in case a few more haven't seen it yet.
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    I've done similar things before, and they do tend to be fun, but it would be highly recommended to have someone with final say, bc regardless of how well intentioned players may be, there will more likey than not be some disagreements.
    Id like to join in, though.. The narrative stuff is one of the things I like best about PBP.
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    Well, I was planning to exercise ultimate creative control when necessary. But hopefully that will be a very rare occurrence in this kind of game. So I would work as the referee when needed, but most of the time I would contribute to the story like anyone else. I think a good example of the way this works (not necessarily the game system or world, just the way the game is focused on narrative) is found in this thread here.
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    Oh definitely, most of the Freeform sims I've been in have needed it very infrequently, it just needs to be known from the beginning for clarity.

    The type of game you're proposing is a fairly standard form of roleplaying in PBeM. Freeform sims were the majority of my online RP experience for years before I found ENWorld.
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    If any of us really want rules, I think InSpectres is really the simplest rules set we could use for this. The free startup edition is perfectly simple and elegant. We wouldn't necessarily have to use the setting of InSpectres. It can be co-opted for just about any milieu.

    Another good option is Amber, but it has more fiddly bits. Still, it has the same narrative structure for resolution of actions that I am looking for.

    If you have another system in mind, let me know.

    And of course we can do without a system at all. We would need a short background for characters (one paragraph or five sentence limit; the point is to learn more about the characters as we play, as you would in reading a novel). A single defining strength and a single defining weakness would be a key element for each character starting out as well. Each player could design 1-3 characters to begin and add more as we continue depending on the player's proclivities.

    I think players should have to agree that it is okay for other characters to roleplay their characters for minor actions. Take a look at the thread I mentioned two posts up for an example of what I mean. (That's a great example of a narrative-style campaign by the way, and a fun read.) One character might take another character along a short distance, or intervene in another character's affairs for a short period of time. Certain things, like death of a character, succumbing to a debilitating illness or a curse, or similar situations will generally only happen with the consent of the character's player though. This does not mean your characters are invincible, but it means it is usually up to the player how his or her characters are affected by terrible things. One player might describe an evil wizard putting a curse upon several characters, including one of his own, who receives full effect of the curse. Another player might decide that because his character's strength is Great Willpower, he shrugs the curse off. A third player might decide that his character succumbs to the curse and must seek out a remedy from a nearby shaman. And so on.

    What do you guys think so far?
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    Quote Originally Posted by airwalkrr View Post
    I want to see if there are any potential players out there who are interested in a narrative world-building style game...
    Is there anyone interested in such a game (if indeed it could be called a game)?
    Hey, airwalkrr, I don't know when you planned to start this, but if it is later in October (after mid-month) I could join in. I haven't played exactly this kind of game before but the correspondence game I run is narrative-heavy with lots of player input, so I think this would be similar. Keep me in mind. Thanks!

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    I am not in any hurry to get this started. But for those who are interested, it might be a good time to start thinking about what milieu we want for the game and what kind of characters we will play. I am partial to fantasy myself, but I also have an interest in science fiction. The science fiction milieu could really hold a lot of potential for this type of game. There would be plenty of room for twists in the plot because of strange phenomena. Do any of you have any specific predilections one way or another?
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