5E Are D&D Ravnica and MtG Ravnica the same? - Page 5
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  1. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by pemerton View Post
    No it wouldn't.

    The real world is something I live in and experience. My knowledge of it is intimate. It is not mediated to me through anyone's verbal narration of it.

    The most obvious way to emulate this in a RPG is for the players to stipulate elements of the setting as they need to. Not for the GM (or a 3rd party) to write up reams of fiction in advance of play.
    I don't get your point. Whether it's you or someone else that adds details to a world, you're still adding details to enhance immersion. Once again, it's obvious that if you tailor a world to fit your needs, that's going to be more immersive than a world created by someone else.

    On a side note, that's not the most obvious way. If you want to emulate the way you experience a world, another obvious way is to take a pre-existing world and discovering things as you progress. If anything, if we really want to be precise, that'd be closer to how you experience the world IRL, because you don't decide what happens, what exists and what's true or not IRL.

    Either way, a key element for a world to be immersive is for it to be detailed enough, and not carboard-thin, wheter it's you or someone else who adds the details.

    Providing a tool to co-authors to help them stay on the same page - OK, that's a publishing strategy.

    But as a "user" I'm not a co-author who needs a pubishing strategy. I'm a RPGer who is looking for a certain sort of play experience. Tomes of someone else's writing provide a reading experience, not a RPGing experience.
    That's not really a publishing strategy as much as the default if you want to put out material that is internally coherent on the most basic level. Canon is necessary for a world to be coherent and not just a bunch of unrelated or contradicting information.

    As for users, it's obvious that every single user is going to change stuff according to their taste, but when, say, you talk about a setting to someone else, when you declare "I'm running a game in this setting (without specifying anything else)", you're referring to the default, to the baseline--i.e. to canon. A standard version is automatically created when you publish material about a world, because that version is going to be what people associate with the name of the setting.

  2. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by Irennan View Post
    I don't get your point. Whether it's you or someone else that adds details to a world, you're still adding details to enhance immersion.
    The difference between (1) me, in the world, going to my place of work and saying hello to my colleagues, and (2) me, as a player, asking the GM to tell me where my place of work is, and what it looks like, and who my colleagues are, and what they are like, is huge!

    The second is very like having someone read me a book or tell me a (perhaps not super-gripping) story. But if the goal is immersion in my PC, then I need an experience closer to (1). In my play experience, that is most obviously achieved by having the player simply describe his/her PC's place of work, colleagues etc as the need arises in play.

    The system might gate the realisation of that description behind some sort of check. Just as, sadly, in the real world it can turn out that some of your colleagues rag on your behind your back, so a failed check might reveal something similar in the fiction of an RPG - ie the GM uses the failed check to reveal some unwelcome truth about the workplace or the colleagues. But that process is still very different from reading the information from a book.

    Quote Originally Posted by Irennan View Post
    If you want to emulate the way you experience a world, another obvious way is to take a pre-existing world and discovering things as you progress. If anything, if we really want to be precise, that'd be closer to how you experience the world IRL, because you don't decide what happens, what exists and what's true or not IRL.
    The key issue for immersion is not choice but immediacy. Bracketing certain exceptions for unusual mental conditions, cognitive frameworks, etc; and bracketing technical and esoteric knowledge which one might acquire in highly mediated ways; one's experience of the real world is unmediated. Knowing where you live, who your friends and family are, who you grew up with, whether you prefer ice cream or cheese cake for dessert, whether the shop down the road sells one, the other, or both - these are all things that one knows intuitively and without need to be told by a third party.

    RPGing in which all knowledge of the setting is delivered to the players by the GM createss an experience of being an alien in the gameworld. That's an experience that I've had in real life a few times as a tourist in places quite different from my own homeland, but it's not the norm.

    In some very classic RPGs - D&D with its dungeon crawling; Classic Traveller where the PCs turn up as strangers on hitherto unexplored worlds - that experience of alienation can be appropriately immersive, But even in Traveller it will break down in some contexts - eg starports, branches of the Travellers' Aid Society, lower-class urban culture, are all supposed to be rather common in their nature from world to world, and so the players feeling like aliens in respect of these is immersion-breaking.

    A practical example will illustrate the point: in my Traveller game, when the PCs arrived at the starport-satellite orbiting a low-tech world, and wanted to get more information about the place they were planning to visit on that world, they looked for the tourist brochures at the starport. This action declaration reveals what people in the gameworld take to be typical. Of course it's possible that this starport doesn't have tourist brochures, but that would be a deliberate decision to present this starport to the players as atypical and departing from received expectations.

    In a context like that it will hurt, not promote, immersion to tell the players that their expectations of typicality are in fact wrong, and that people in the game universe don't get information about worlds from tourist brochures at their starports.

    In other words, immersion-promoting setting can't be established independently of play, because it is only the actual context of play that will reveal what it is that an immersion-promoting session must be like.

    (Exactly the same phenomenon can happen in FRPGing. If a player of the only dwarf PC, when something dwarf-related comes up, says "Of course it's like XYZ because that's how we dwarves do things!" then it will break immersion, not promote it, to tell the player that in fact dwarves do things like ABC because that's what some non-gamem-participant author wrote in his/her book.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Irennan View Post
    a key element for a world to be immersive is for it to be detailed enough, and not carboard-thin, wheter it's you or someone else who adds the details.
    Again, my personal experience doesn't really bear this out. Here's an sblocked actual play example that shows what I mean:

    Spoiler:
    Quote Originally Posted by pemerton View Post
    the PCs had escaped into the Mausoleum of the Raven Queen

    <snip>

    Their reason for being there was that the Mausoleum of the Raven Queen - like other lost things - had ended up on The Barrens in the Abyss. And Osterneth, as an agent of Vecna, had gone there to try and learn the Raven Queen's true name from her dead (mortal) body. The PCs were there to stop her - but with various degrees of enthusiasm, because they don't all exactly approve of her and her growing divine power. (Even though nearly everything they do seems to increase this!)

    The Mausoleum had three areas: an entrance room, with a large statue and modest altar; a set of stairs with slightly elevated ramps on either side leading down to the principal room - very large (about 90' x 50') with a huge statue and two pools of water, corrupted by the Abyss; and then a smaller set of stairs leading down to the burial room, with a large altar and five statues and 4 side rooms (the sarcophagus room, the room with canopic jars, the grave goods room and the treasure room).

    The PCs started in the entrance

    <snip>

    They studied the murals and reliefs in the entrance chamber, which showed the Raven Queen's victories during her life, becoming the most powerful ruler in the world (crushing her enemies, being adulated by her subjects, etc - I told the players to think of Egyptian tomb paintings, Mesopotamian reliefs, and similar).

    <snip>

    the sphinx then came out, and told them that they must answer a riddle before they could pass further into the Mausoleum.

    <snip>

    I wrote the riddle a few weeks ago on the train:

    In the green garden, a sapling grows,
    In time the tree dies, a seed remains.
    In the grim garden shall that seed be sown,
    Among the black poplars a new tree, a new name:
    Shade shall it cast,
    Frost endure,
    Dooms outlast,
    Pride cure.

    Appropriately enough, it was the player of the ridiculously zealous paladin of the Raven Queen who first conjectured that the subject of the riddle was the Raven Queen herself - first her mortal life, than her life after death in which she took on a new name ("the Raven Queen") and took control of the Shadowfell and death, of winter, and of fate.

    <snip>

    The mural in the principal room - also a magical hazard if they got too close, which they made sure not to - depicted the mortal queen's magical achievements - including defeating a glabrezu on the Feywild, and travelling to the land of the dead (at that time, a land of black poplars ruled by Nerull).

    The paladin looked in the cleansed pool to see what he could see, and saw episodes from the past depicting the Raven Queen's accretion of domains (fate from Lolth, in return for helping Corellon against her; winter from Khala, in return for sending her into death at the behest of the other gods); and then also the future, of a perfect world reborn following the destruction of the Dusk War, with her as ruler.

    <snip>

    with the guardian's permission they went down the last set of stairs to the burial room.

    This room had a statue in each of four corners - the Raven Queen mortal, ruling death, ruling fate and ruling winter. The fifth statute faced a large altar, and showed her in her future state, as universal ruler. The murals and reliefs here showed the future (continuing the theme of the rooms: the entry room showed her mortal life; the principal room her magical life, including her passage into death; this room her future as a god). I made up some salient images, based on important events of the campaign: an image of the Wolf-Spider; an image of the a great staff or rod with six dividing lines on it (ie the completed Rod of 7 Parts, which is to be the trigger for the Dusk War); an image of an earthmote eclipsing the sun (the players don't know what this one is yet, though in principle they should, so I'll leave it unexplained for now); an image of a bridge with an armoured knight on it, or perhaps astride it - this was not clear given the "flat-ness" of the perspective, and the presence of horns on the knight was also hard to discern (the players immediately recognised this as the paladin taking charge of The Bridge That Can Be Traversed But Once); and an image of the tarrasque wreaking havoc.

    <snip>

    the discussion then shifted to defeating Osterneth. The player of the sorcerer had been very keen on the possibility of a magical chariot among the grave goods, and so I decided that there was a gilt-and-bronze Chariot of Sustarre (fly speed 8, 1x/enc cl burst 3 fire attack). They persuaded the guardians to let them borrow it, as the necessary cost of preventing Osterneth coming in and defiling the body.


    Playing that session was immersive. But the setting did not need to be detailed. How high are the statutes? What does the Raven Queen look like? What colour is the sphinx? What other grave goods were entombed along with the chariot? Those things don't need to be spelled out. If for whatever reason they come up, they can be specified as required, just as the chariot itself was specified when the need arose.

    What generated the immersion was not the detail, but the emotional significance of what was presented - in this particular example, its interplay between staisfying expectation (eg murals and grave goods of the sort one associates with an Egyptian, Assyrian etc burial) and (for lack of a better world) "threat" that conforms to suspicions but isn't necessarily satisfying (eg the statutes presenting the Raven Queen's future as being ruler of the cosmos).

    Because those expectations and threats are contingent upon the particular orientation and the events and outcomes of prior episodes of play, they can't all be stipulated in advance. Maintaining immersion means playing the game and responding with the give-and-take of affirming enough expectations that the players don't feel like strangers in their own (imagined) universe, while twisting and building on those expectations sufficiently to create threats or opportunities that will propel the game forward in ways that aren't just arbitrary or artificial.

    Details will of course accrue over time, but those aren't what produce immersive play. They're the outcome of immersive play.

    Quote Originally Posted by Irennan View Post
    when, say, you talk about a setting to someone else, when you declare "I'm running a game in this setting (without specifying anything else)", you're referring to the default, to the baseline--i.e. to canon. A standard version is automatically created when you publish material about a world, because that version is going to be what people associate with the name of the setting.
    I think this is an empirical claim whose truth is highly variable across settings and their "users". It seems like maybe it's true for a significant swathe of FR players. But f someone told me they wanted to pay a Star Wars game I'd assume that there were going to be TIE fighters and cantinas full of aliens and other obvious Star Wars tropes, but I would expect the existence or otherwise of a rebel base on Hoth to be up for grabs, depending on what happens in play - because that's exactly the sort of thing that should be in issue in a Star Wars game.

    (Maybe FR is different in this respect precisely because it has no distinctive tropes or themes, and perhaps is nothing but a collection of names and dates.)

    The idea that playing in a setting will in some very precise way recapitulate everything that the publisher and its licensees have ever said or written about the setting is one that I personally would find quite foreign. And the people I play with are the same. They think of a setting in terms of key tropes and themes, not minutiae which, if they matter to play, can be established in the course of play.

  3. #43
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    Quote Originally Posted by Irennan View Post
    To me this simply means that the FR canon is much larger than the Eberron Canon, but Eberron published material is still based on a certain baseline canon in order for it to be internally coherent.
    And thus the way you are using the term differs from the way most of the rest of us are using it in regards to these discussions.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pemerton View Post
    Stuff about details
    To me, it seems that you're misunderstanding what I mean by details. I don't mean giving info about the world to players in an indirect (and stupid) way, like the dwarf saying "ofc, that's how we dwarves do things", nor I mean spelling out the trivial things during a session. I mean, for example, a world that has a well established dwarven culture, traditions, society, common mindset etc... that the DM can show, not tell, to the PCs through direct interaction (and not some long winded descriptions). A world that includes a polished portrayal of its civilizations is very obviously going to be more immersive than a setting that does it vaguely. Small details can certainly be made up as you play, but even for those, having them can still helpful for a DM, despite not being needed for immersion.

    In any case, the important elements that I mentioned above certainly enhance immersion.

    I think this is an empirical claim whose truth is highly variable across settings and their "users". It seems like maybe it's true for a significant swathe of FR players. But f someone told me they wanted to pay a Star Wars game I'd assume that there were going to be TIE fighters and cantinas full of aliens and other obvious Star Wars tropes, but I would expect the existence or otherwise of a rebel base on Hoth to be up for grabs, depending on what happens in play - because that's exactly the sort of thing that should be in issue in a Star Wars game.

    (Maybe FR is different in this respect precisely because it has no distinctive tropes or themes, and perhaps is nothing but a collection of names and dates.)

    The idea that playing in a setting will in some very precise way recapitulate everything that the publisher and its licensees have ever said or written about the setting is one that I personally would find quite foreign. And the people I play with are the same. They think of a setting in terms of key tropes and themes, not minutiae which, if they matter to play, can be established in the course of play.
    FR has its tropes and themes, and it's still true that when people talk about FR, they will all agree on what kind of country Cormyr is, how religion works in the Realms, etc... even when they personally have it different in their personal game (in short, defining elements that are default and that make up the canonical version of the Realms). That's how canon also exists for users: it's inevitable in the end, it automatically comes with publishing a world.
    Last edited by Irennan; Thursday, 8th November, 2018 at 10:00 AM.

  5. #45
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    Quote Originally Posted by DEFCON 1 View Post
    And thus the way you are using the term differs from the way most of the rest of us are using it in regards to these discussions.
    Until I hit this thread, my knowledge was that "canon" was just another word for "official", unrelatedly to the level of detail. But yes, it seems that people use "canon" in a different way (which puzzles me, because "canon" is a thing for all kinds of fiction, and it merely means official).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Irennan View Post
    To me, it seems that you're misunderstanding what I mean by details. I don't mean giving info about the world to players in an indirect (and stupid) way, like the dwarf saying "ofc, that's how we dwarves do things", nor I mean spelling out the trivial things during a session. I mean, for example, a world that has a well established dwarven culture, traditions, society, common mindset etc... that the DM can show, not tell, to the PCs through direct interaction (and not some long winded descriptions). A world that includes a polished portrayal of its civilizations is very obviously going to be more immersive than a setting that does it vaguely. Small details can certainly be made up as you play, but even for those, having them can still helpful for a DM, despite not being needed for immersion.
    This appears to assume, as I said in my post, that the PCs are strangers.

    What you describe may be an excellent approach for a novelist wanting to introduce his/her readers to his/her imaginary land (I'm currently 50 pages into a rereading of Dune - Frank Herbert is doing a lot of this). But if one of the players is playing a dwarf; or if any of the PCs is from one of the civilisations in question; then we are back to the GM telling that player how his/her PC experiences the world.

    (There is a further issue about the quality of the fiction, and the quality of the GM's portrayal of it - but my point is that even if these are top notch, that won't deal with the alienation issue.)

    Quote Originally Posted by Irennan View Post
    In any case, the important elements that I mentioned above certainly enhance immersion.
    I've done a quick review of your posts in this thread and failed to work out what the "important elements" are. You used metaphors like "cardboard thin" and "bare bones" to describe non-immersion generating settings. You also said that immersion-generating canon need not be "super-detailed" and might be "vague".

    What I think enhances immersion is a strong sense of colour, a strong affective sense (be that familiarity, confusion, horror, etc) and a strong sense of what is possible. Genre and tropes go a long way in this respect; so does not having to wait on the GM to tell you how things are, or what to expect. I think the importance of details is grossly overrated, and tends to elide the difference between imagining a fiction someone else is authoring (reading is the paradigm of this) and participating in the creation of a shared fiction by playing a protagonist which is at the heart of (much, even if not all) RPGing.

    Quote Originally Posted by Irennan View Post
    FR has its tropes and themes, and it's still true that when people talk about FR, they will all agree on what kind of country Cormyr is, how religion works in the Realms, etc.
    I would call those (imaginary) facts; as you present them they're not really tropes. Cormyr is the place where knights ride around in shining armour is a trope. But once I know that about Cormyr, then I shouldn't need to read or be told anything else - I've watched Excalibur, I've read LotR, I should be good to go!

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    Quote Originally Posted by pemerton View Post
    This appears to assume, as I said in my post, that the PCs are strangers.

    What you describe may be an excellent approach for a novelist wanting to introduce his/her readers to his/her imaginary land (I'm currently 50 pages into a rereading of Dune - Frank Herbert is doing a lot of this). But if one of the players is playing a dwarf; or if any of the PCs is from one of the civilisations in question; then we are back to the GM telling that player how his/her PC experiences the world.

    (There is a further issue about the quality of the fiction, and the quality of the GM's portrayal of it - but my point is that even if these are top notch, that won't deal with the alienation issue.)
    How does it alienate people? You're just showing them how things are. For example, the way a common shop-owner addresses a noble customer, or describing a festival specific to a certain culture. Stuff like that. You're merely telling people what they see so that they can picture it in their head, you're interpreting NPCs when they interact with players. That's standard stuff, yet it provides plenty of ways to show (and not tell about) a world as if the players were part of it, thus providing immersion.

    You don't do any of this?

    I've done a quick review of your posts in this thread and failed to work out what the "important elements" are. You used metaphors like "cardboard thin" and "bare bones" to describe non-immersion generating settings. You also said that immersion-generating canon need not be "super-detailed" and might be "vague".

    What I think enhances immersion is a strong sense of colour, a strong affective sense (be that familiarity, confusion, horror, etc) and a strong sense of what is possible. Genre and tropes go a long way in this respect; so does not having to wait on the GM to tell you how things are, or what to expect. I think the importance of details is grossly overrated, and tends to elide the difference between imagining a fiction someone else is authoring (reading is the paradigm of this) and participating in the creation of a shared fiction by playing a protagonist which is at the heart of (much, even if not all) RPGing.
    I never said that a detailed setting can be "vague". It can avoid the small minutiae (like what kinds of items are buried with people), but I specifically said that a detailed setting needs to be polished and complete, and I made an example of what I mean when I mentioned elements of a hypothetical dwarven culture that need to be included so that a DM has all the tools to portray that culture, to properly act NPCs of that culture etc... A vague setting, OTOH, is (for example) a world that doesn't bother to define its cultures beyond a trope. You can provide immersion with it (you can do it with any setting, adding enough of your own work, adding strong NPCs, etc...) but, once again, in the process of doing so you're bringing that trope to life, i.e. you're pushing it beyond just a trope and making something more out of it.

    Color is affected by details. Not by overloading a setting with details, but by providing some that set a strong tone (similarly to how, in a scene, the smallest but well chosen detail can set a tone). Affection obviously enhances immersion, but that can only come by being invested in the story of a world by whichever means (and you need an actual story, strong NPCs, etc... to achieve that). Also, I don't know whether you leave all aspects of your world to your players (judging from what you posted, you obviously don't), but how does a campaign being set in a fictional world that you didn't create prevent you from being the protagonist? Because, from what I see, that's how things go for the vast majority of people.

    I would call those (imaginary) facts; as you present them they're not really tropes. Cormyr is the place where knights ride around in shining armour is a trope. But once I know that about Cormyr, then I shouldn't need to read or be told anything else - I've watched Excalibur, I've read LotR, I should be good to go!
    If you want a setting that is only a collection of tropes, you don't really want a setting, you want just a baseline to start homebrewing (and I, personally, really don't want to pay for that). Which is fine, ofc (I do it myself), but irrelevant to what we're discussing. Btw, the FR also has its tropes, I honestly don't think that there's a setting without them.

    Anyway, I don't see how that's related to my point: Cormyr and what it's like is part of the FR canon, it's the default assumption when you want to talk about FR to someone. It automatically comes into existence as soon as you publish it as a setting, because it's what people are going to read, it's what people assume when you talk about it, and it's what the publisher will use as a baseline for future products. The fact that we're free to ignore it doesn't delete its existence.
    Last edited by Irennan; Thursday, 8th November, 2018 at 11:08 AM.

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