Is RPGing a *literary* endeavour? - Page 115
  1. #1141
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maxperson View Post
    Equivocation requires intent. It's an attempt to conceal the truth, which requires the intent to conceal the truth, or to avoid committing, which requires the intent to avoid committing. There's no way around it. A wrong conclusion is just a wrong conclusion without other intent to change things.
    Now you are just asserting things. Admittedly, it has been some years since I took a formal logic course. But my understanding of it as a fallacy it is about when a word's ambiguity is used to reach a false conclusion. That more often than not probably involves intent, but it doesn't have to. Even if you remove intent, you still have the equivocation around the different meanings the word has. If anyone with professional background in philosophy, wants to weigh in here, I am all ears. I could certainly be wrong. But just grabbing some philosophical definitions this is what I find: (From Texas State U): The fallacy of equivocation occurs when a key term or phrase in an argument is used in an ambiguous way, with one meaning in one portion of the argument and then another meaning in another portion of the argument.(From Lucid Philosophy dot Com): Equivocation is when a word shifts meaning in an argument.(Philosophy pages): The informal fallacy that can result when an ambiguous word or phrase is used in different senses within a single argument.Example: "Odd things arouse human suspicion. But seventeen is an odd number. Therefore, seventeen arouses human suspicion."

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maxperson View Post
    Um. That makes no sense as a response to what I said. Perhaps you should re-read my post, your response, or both.
    You're correct. I read a question mark there. But the issue is not the ebb-and-flow of conversation but how the goalposts for what was being asked for was moved after an answer was supplied. That is more than simply the conversation changing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bedrockgames View Post
    Now you are just asserting things. Admittedly, it has been some years since I took a formal logic course. But my understanding of it as a fallacy it is about when a word's ambiguity is used to reach a false conclusion. That more often than not probably involves intent, but it doesn't have to. Even if you remove intent, you still have the equivocation around the different meanings the word has. If anyone with professional background in philosophy, wants to weigh in here, I am all ears. I could certainly be wrong. But just grabbing some philosophical definitions this is what I find: (From Texas State U): The fallacy of equivocation occurs when a key term or phrase in an argument is used in an ambiguous way, with one meaning in one portion of the argument and then another meaning in another portion of the argument.(From Lucid Philosophy dot Com): Equivocation is when a word shifts meaning in an argument.(Philosophy pages): The informal fallacy that can result when an ambiguous word or phrase is used in different senses within a single argument.Example: "Odd things arouse human suspicion. But seventeen is an odd number. Therefore, seventeen arouses human suspicion."
    So, fallacies don't automatically lead to false conclusions. The logic of a statement can be incredibly unsound without the conclusion being false. I also haven't been using multiple meanings of literary. You have different meanings for the words that I'm using, not me. You don't get to apply your personal preferred meanings to me, and then declare that I'm switching things around. Other times it has been clear from your response that you didn't understand. Your lack of understand doesn't create an equivocation on my part.

    I understand the fallacy, but I haven't use it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aldarc View Post
    I am not inclined to view the latter as a literary endeavor.

    This again delves into a conversation piece that I have repeatedly brought up in this thread between NARRATIVE and LITERATURE. Not all narratives are literature and not all literature are narratives. If we look at what you wrote starting with this second paragraph, we are talking about narrative (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narrative) as opposed to literature. Narratology is the study of narratives/stories. Regardless of medium, stories will often feature things like characters with motives, internal consistency, themes, and dialogue. I definitely think that TTRPGs are most definitely a narrative/storytelling endeavor. We get together to participate in story creation through roleplaying. But where I take opposition is the idea that TTRPGs are literary endeavors. Several definitions have been proposed for "literary" in this thread; I have challenged whether TTRPGs would qualify as "literary" with each of these user-proposed definitions. And I did not find much of a compelling case that TTRPGs qualify as literature.

    TTRPGs definitely have associated literature, but that does not make TTRPGs a form of literature. That constitutes a composition fallacy. What is true for a part is not necessarily true for the whole. The composition fallacy is one reason why I raised the analogy of cooking, cookbooks, and recipes. We can cook using recipes as a form of reference material. The recipe will often include ingredients and instructions. Though nowadays when you are looking FOR ONE DAMN RECIPE FOR MAKING AN APPLE PIE, YOU HAVE TO SCROLL THROUGH AN ENTIRE OF THE AUTHOR'S DULL LIFE STORY ABOUT HOW HER GREAT GRANDFATHER'S SINGULAR THOUGHT THROUGH THE BATTLE OF VERDUN WAS HIS MOTHER'S APPLE PIE RECIPE AND HOW THIS RECIPE WAS PASSED DOWN FROM ONE ENTITLED LOSER CHILD TO THE NEXT BEFORE THIS MIDDLE-AGED WHITE WOMAN GETS TO THE PART THAT ACTUALLY TEACHES YOU HOW TO MAKE IT. NO ONE CARES, KAREN! Sorry. Where was I?

    But despite the presence of associated written texts, we don't conventionally think of cooking as literature. We think of it as the act and process of food preparation. There is literature involved. But remembering the composition fallacy, what's true for a part is not necessarily true for the whole.

    Likewise, we have reference books for TTRPGs that often include flavor text and such, but the modus operandi of TTRPGs is not the books, but the fiction that emerges through play. We can use these reference books to inspire our fiction-making, much like how cookbooks and recipes can inspire our cooking. These books can provide a common frame of reference and a guide for play. But it's the process of roleplaying characters in the context of a game that the game's fiction is framed, negotiated, and developed. The fiction of the setting or reference book can be used to inspire gameplay but it does not necessarily predetermine the fiction.

    I could take that unique monster from Scarred Lands and re-imagine it in a non-Scarred Lands game. I could also take that unique monster from Scarred Lands and re-imagine it in a Scarred Lands game that lacks the particular context referenced in the source materials.

    What ultimately matters is the fiction that transpires through the gameplay at the table. The nature of this gameplay requires that participants understand what's happening in the fiction at the table (not necessarily the fiction in any book) in a given moment so they can declare actions that engage with that fiction. What develops through this gameplay is not literature, but story/narrative.

    From this thread I gather that @pemerton's sense of literary/wordcraft involves an intersection of art/performance and an authorial attention to purposeful form, style, diction, and quality. In some regards, pemerton's sense of "literary" could almost be reduced to "an elevated performative speech that intentionally deviates from colloquial speech patterns." Keeping in mind that he is primarily applying this meaning as it's expressed in TTRPGs, which is the discussion at hand.

    Though I do not doubt that some in this thread will not put forth the question "what isn't elevated performative speech?", I don't think that we need to engage this continuum fallacy (i.e., "where do we draw the line?") to understand pemerton's basic sense, at least if we bother to put in the effort to approach his argument with good faith that seeks to understand and not simply knee-jerk reactions.
    I don't fully agree with @pemerton's argument, but you nailed it that you don't have to precisely define a line on a spectrum to be able to say something is at one end or the other. I read pemerton to be analyzing at the least literary end of the spectrum and looking at whether RPGs can exist there. This is valid, but I don't think any existing RPGs do exist there even if they could conceptually. I think RPGs can exist on both sides of the undefined line.

    Personally, I think art requires intent. So, if you intend your ROG to be literary, it is. Most likely a terrible example, but I think intent matters over execution with whether something is or isn't art. Now, critically, execution matters tremendously and I struggle to imagine an RPG experience that would cross into mediocre literary merit much less great.

    I think it's useful to look at the core interaction of RPGs as to what the key parts are, and how those work. I'm not sure if literary quality is a useful metric for this.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Aldarc View Post
    You're correct. I read a question mark there. But the issue is not the ebb-and-flow of conversation but how the goalposts for what was being asked for was moved after an answer was supplied. That is more than simply the conversation changing.
    If I ask you to prove something and you do, then I dismiss it and ask you to prove something further instead, I have moved the goalposts. If you make a statement and I disagree with it, saying, "No, literary is this," no goalposts have been moved. We don't have to agree with @pemerton's assertion and are not forced to limit our discussion to what he presumes to be true.

    No goalposts have been moved by us.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maxperson View Post
    So, fallacies don't automatically lead to false conclusions. The logic of a statement can be incredibly unsound without the conclusion being false. I also haven't been using multiple meanings of literary. You have different meanings for the words that I'm using, not me. You don't get to apply your personal preferred meanings to me, and then declare that I'm switching things around. Other times it has been clear from your response that you didn't understand. Your lack of understand doesn't create an equivocation on my part.I understand the fallacy, but I haven't use it.
    We could go back and relitigate. I am not terribly concerned about proving who equivocated or not. But equivocation definitely occurred around this term on the thread. Whether it was you, another poster, or multiple posters, I don't particularly care. But you do have a history in this thread of just declaring things without any support. And this post strikes me as an example of such a declaration. Obviously conclusions can be true even if the arguments behind them are not logically sound. That doesn't mean you should just go around equivocating. I really don't think people understand the degree to which this kind of equivocation is a problem in gaming discussions.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maxperson View Post
    The errors were from lack of sufficient detail.
    I'd say lack of key detail, which is a different thing from specifics. The post you presented this to as a counter wasn't talking about lack of key detail, but uneccesary specifics. The example was of a jeweled sword where it being richly appointed is the key and not the specifics of the jewels. You presented a scenario that had missing key information as a counter to this. It's not. As I said, your confusion could have been rectified by unspecific detail such as being you know that the enemies were close enough to close and attack on their turn. How many feet that is would be the unnecessary specificity.

    As for the rocks, the could very well have mattered. They would be a hazard to move quickly over or fight in.

    It was a fairly involved battle scene. He thought I understood that they were close enough to attack me. I didn't. These things happen in theater of the mind.
    That doesn't change that it was the GM's error in not providing the key details, and also in not clarifying when a misunderstanding was apparent. The first is not a bad thing -- we all make these mistakes. The second is less forgivable.

    The group I play with now uses minis and dry erase maps to avoid that sort of thing. It's one of those things I mentioned that minimizes the issues that crops up with people imagining different things.
    It just replaces it with a different set of problems (and doesn't fully remove the one under discussion, either). In other words, you can't present gridded play as superior to TofM. It's just different.

    What @pemerton was saying with regards to this is also very good advice for avoiding confusion. Prioritize information presentation as it pertains to character interaction with the intent and theme of the scene and avoid unnecessary details. Unsurprisingly, this dovetails with his arguments about literary quality.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maxperson View Post
    If I ask you to prove something and you do, then I dismiss it and ask you to prove something further instead, I have moved the goalposts. If you make a statement and I disagree with it, saying, "No, literary is this," no goalposts have been moved. We don't have to agree with @pemerton's assertion and are not forced to limit our discussion to what he presumes to be true.

    No goalposts have been moved by us.
    What are you talking about? I even explained the specific context in which the goalposts were moved, Max. Did you not even bother to read it or did your eyes just glaze over?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ovinomancer View Post
    I'd say lack of key detail, which is a different thing from specifics.
    Key detail. Insufficient detail. It's the same thing. Lacking a key detail is insufficient.

    The post you presented this to as a counter wasn't talking about lack of key detail, but uneccesary specifics. The example was of a jeweled sword where it being richly appointed is the key and not the specifics of the jewels. You presented a scenario that had missing key information as a counter to this. It's not. As I said, your confusion could have been rectified by unspecific detail such as being you know that the enemies were close enough to close and attack on their turn. How many feet that is would be the unnecessary specificity.
    It listed examples of unnecessary specifics, but it made the claim that players imaging different things is often not an issue. Then it gave limited examples where it wasn't an issue. I was countering by saying that it often is an issue. And then I gave limited examples where it was an issue. My post was a counter to his. A few examples is not exhaustive of the possibilities and I am not limited to what he gave examples of when presenting a counter argument.

    That doesn't change that it was the GM's error in not providing the key details, and also in not clarifying when a misunderstanding was apparent. The first is not a bad thing -- we all make these mistakes. The second is less forgivable.
    Maybe I'm more forgiving than you are, but I don't automatically assume it was the DM's fault. The detail might have been sufficient, but I still misunderstood. When misunderstandings happen, things should be corrected if it turns out that it was DM error, but not when the misunderstanding is player error.

    It just replaces it with a different set of problems (and doesn't fully remove the one under discussion, either).
    Right. That's why I said it minimizes the issue, not eliminates it.

    In other words, you can't present gridded play as superior to TofM. It's just different.
    I didn't present it as superior or inferior. All I said is that it minimizes the issues of where PCs, monsters and things are located in relation to one another.

    What @pemerton was saying with regards to this is also very good advice for avoiding confusion. Prioritize information presentation as it pertains to character interaction with the intent and theme of the scene and avoid unnecessary details. Unsurprisingly, this dovetails with his arguments about literary quality.
    I disagree with the bolded part. If the PCs are in the kings castle and they find a secret door leading to a room, and when they open the door I describe the dust billowing into the air from the opening of the door, that's not a necessary detail. I've added it to evoke a sense of how long it has been since anyone has been there. It's a detail that will, for a great many people, add to the depth and feel of the game. All that was necessary is to tell them that the door opens.

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    Quote Originally Posted by pemerton View Post
    Somewhat contra @Lanefan, it often doesn't matter at all if the players think different things about the fiction.

    Last Sunday I GMed a session of Prince Valiant. One of the PCs is a bard/entertainer who wears "colourful clothes". What colour(s) are they? We've never specified. If I think about it I guess I think red, orange, yellow, maybe blue also. What does the player of that character have in mind? Or any of the other players?

    Another PC has a jewelled sword that grants a bonus in certain social situations. What sorts of jewels? Colour? Size? Monetary value? Again, it's never come up. What colour are the horses? Ditto.

    When the PCs boarded a ship to France, how long was it? How broad of beam? When it foundered on a rock shelf, and I described the water between the ship and the beach as "shallow", how shallow? As per the scenario I was using, I called for Difficulty 3 Brawn tests to get to shore unharmed.
    Which very neatly gets you out of having to describe much detail at all, as the mechanics can cover all sorts of things at once. Mechanics like this are a cop-out, I think - instead of just calling for Brawn tests (low granularity of detail) I'd far rather be told the actual situation and then asked what my character specifically does about it (higher granulartity of detail).

    'How shallow?' is a very relevant detail - if it's 4' deep then the Humans can likely walk on the bottom but the Hobbits and Gnomes are going to have to swim or be carried. How long and-or beamy the ship is gives - for those the least bit familiar with anything maritime - a quick idea about how much room there is on board, about how the ship is likely to behave in rough weather, and about how fast it is or isn't likely to go; and simply saying "you're on a solidly-built 70-foot three-master, narrow beam for its length, two decks and a hold, and probably deep draft" takes maybe five seconds.

    @Maxperson lists some examples where differences in imagination between DM and player have caused grief, and that's exactly the sort of thing I don't want to see happen. When the DM says the field is strewn with large rocks I-as-player shouldn't have to ask how big they are. I've had characters die due to just this sort of thing - in one instance I remember clearly even though I asked for more clarification several times the DM's description still didn't put his picture of the scene into my mind but instead left me seeing a different one; I based my actions around my-as-player's perception of the scene and my character was dead within the round.

    For the colourful Bard, as the colourful part is obviously intended to be significant I'd probably ask the player to note on the character sheet a few details of what pieces of clothing are usually what colours, just so it's locked in in case it ever becomes relevant later. ("we need a distress flag and that bright red tunic will do nicely - give it 'ere!")

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