Is RPGing a *literary* endeavour? - Page 117
  1. #1161
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ovinomancer View Post
    Seriously. :|

    Okay, I suppose your point in the last few threads was: "[t]he thing is, those times where it doesn't matter.......don't matter."
    However, as there's times when it does matter, wouldn't it be best policy to treat these things - clarity of narration, inclusion of all relevant material, and good enough wordsmithery to hold the players' interest - as if they matter all the time and just get them right?

  2. #1162
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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.
    As I posted upthread, I don't know what your field is. I don't know how many logic or philosophy seminars you have attended.

    But the standard word used to describe a fallacious or sophistic argument that superficially appears valid, but in fact is not valid because a key term carries different meanings in different sentences of the argument, is equivocation. And the cognate verb is equivocate.

    That is what @Bedrockgames and @Aldarc are talking about.

    The fact that you don't notice that you're doing it doesn't make your argument any more valid.

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    "Is it core to RPGing to aim at the sorts of featurs that generate praise in literary or theatrical reviews? My view is no. Other posters in this thread think the answer is yes - that the participants in a RPG should be aiming to entertain one another through performance and narration."

    Whoah. "Is X equal to pi? I say no. Is X equal to three? Others say yes. Therefore there is disagreement."

    I aim to entertain my fellow players through performance and narration, and by other means (mainly humor). I want us all to enjoy the session. As a GM, I've occasionally scripted a scene description which might rate passably well in an amateur compilation, though not from a mainstream publisher. I've used foreshadowing - that's a literary device, right? (One time, several players wanted to run short start-of-session intro scenes, to introduce characters or other elements for stories which they'd run when it was their turn to DM; so the main DM declared the following session "National Foreshadowing Day", and we spent the evening on those intro scenes, giving the main GM a one-session break from running his story arc.)

    I do not aim to earn a four star literary or theatrical review from the New York Times.

    I don't even aim for the "Critical Role" goal of producing something of interest and value to others, *beyond those at the table*.

    Musical analogy: I used to regularly attend folk music and sea shanty gatherings. Occasionally I would lead a song, soloing the verses with everyone else joining the chorus. I aspired to help the gathering have a good time together. I was not performing studio quality work for recording, nor for review by music critics. My singing voice got better with practice, and my fellows encouraged me, but my singing will never generate praise in a review.
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    "Boardgames don't call to action at all! There is no protagonism in a board game.
    -
    "I gather that you've never played "Wrath of Ashardalon".
    -
    One time I played "Zombies!" at a game store. The game ends when (a) the helipad tile is played into the board map and (b) one character (one player's figure) boards the helicopter, escaping the scenario. I got my figure adjacent to the helicopter - then stayed adjacent, on the grounds that my character was calling to the other surviving humans: "I'm holding off as long as I can! Hurry to the helicopter before the zombies swarm the helipad!" Because my plastic pawn, dammit, was not a selfish scumbag who would abandon others to the zombie horde, not when there was hope of sharing survival. My plastic pawn was a Mahayanist, determined to use that helicopter as a greater vehicle, carrying more than one person to salvation. (As it happens, the game has an alternate victory condition, destroying 25 zombies, and someone won the game with a grenade killtacular, foiling my plan.)
    -
    If you cannot imagine someone breathing protagonism into a boardgame token, then what are you doing among TRPGers? THAT'S HOW ALL THIS GOT STARTED!
    Last edited by Riley37; Sunday, 9th June, 2019 at 12:34 AM.

  5. #1165
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bedrockgames View Post
    If anyone with professional background in philosophy, wants to weigh in here, I am all ears.
    That's been done. You're correct.

    Quote Originally Posted by Bedrockgames View Post
    I really don't think people understand the degree to which this kind of equivocation is a problem in gaming discussions.
    There seems to be an underlying assumption by some posters that any disagreement must be the result of having confused the definition of our terms, and that if only those could be sorted out then everyone would see that what is being said is true or false.

    Or, to put it differently, there seems to be some sort of reluctance to recognise and talk about actual differences of opinion.

    Hussar seems to be an example, because he keeps insisting that he agrees with me whereas it seems obvious to me, and must be obvious to anyone else who's read this thread, that he has a very different view from me about what is important in RPGing:

    Quote Originally Posted by Hussar View Post
    So, we're right back to literary = high art.
    No.

    Not everything the New Yorker reviews is high art.

    Not everything that aspires to literary quality achieves it. So even things that aspire to be high art don't always make it.

    You have said, quite plainly, that GMs should endeavour to give evocative or literarily pleasing narrations. You have also said that players should be aiming to entertain other participants with their evocative and engaging performances. To put it more genreally, you have said that RPG participants should keep in mind the literary quality of their narration, and aim at it being good. Of course you recognise that success will probably be mixed.

    That is what I'm disagreeing with when I say that RPGing is not a literary endeavour, that it doesn't aim at literary virtues, that situation and the call to action, rather than beauty or wordcraft, is central.

    I can cash this out by reference to rulebooks if you like. The 2nd ed AD&D PHB says that a player should try to bring his/her PC to life by entertaining portrayal and characterisation eg does s/he smell? does s/he belch? does s/he finger her prayer beads in moments of indecision? Unlesss I've badly misunderstood you, you agree with this.

    Whereas my claim is that that advice is at best tangential, and at worst actively bad, if we want excellent, exciting, engaging, RPGing.

    Or an example that came up in this thread. @Maxperson said that a RPG gets better if the GM narrates the dust from the opening of the secret door, adding to the "depth and feel of the game". A lot of GM advice manuals say simiar things. Whereas, as I posted upthread, my advice to a GM on how to add to the depth and feel of the game would be very different: work on your situations, and your consequences, and let the narrative details take care of themselves.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Imaro View Post
    What I find strange about this is that the clothes are important enough (and I would assume colorful enough) to be noticeable and yet the actual colors have never been commented on by other players, NPC's, etc. I just find that weird does everyone just comment using the word colorful?
    Quote Originally Posted by Hussar View Post
    Well, yes, of course, because any further commentary would be getting away from "conversation" and into "literary" and, well, no one ever wants that level of detail at their table, do they?
    What do you mean by "everyone just comments"?

    The character sheet records "colourful clothes". I don't think any PC or NPC has ever commented on this as portrayed at the table. (Maybe they've talked about it off-screen - who knows.) It's not surprising that an entertainer should wear colourful clothes - I rewatched The Seventh Seal the other evening, and the actors/acrobats wore colourful clothes (evident even in black and white) and no other character commented on it.

    In our most recent session the player thought about having the character try to do something sneaky, but the fact that she was wearing colourful clothes made that seem like a bad plan, so she did something else instead.

    The actual colour of the clothes doesn't seem that important to me. That different participants envisage them differently doesn't seem to matter. (Suppose the player specified red and orange. The players might envisage different shades; or differnt patterns on the garment. Do we need a portrait - with front and rear views, etc - of everything that we care about in the game?)

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    Edited. Corrected post below.
    Last edited by hawkeyefan; Saturday, 8th June, 2019 at 06:16 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maxperson View Post
    Way to deliberately ignore the important part of my post. You know, in your first response to me it actually sounded as if you might debate this one in good faith. I should have known better.
    Which part was the important part? I figured it was the question, but that question is based on the strawman argument you've shortened @pemerton's points down into. And the response to that question is literally go re-read @pemerton's post again and try not to strawman it -- he answers your question quite well.

    Why is it you feel that you can ignore large parts of people's posts and that this is engaging in good faith but when people engage the lack of your understanding due to this ignoring, we're suddenly arguing in bad faith? Or are you just tone policing?
    Last edited by Ovinomancer; Saturday, 8th June, 2019 at 06:01 PM.

  9. #1169
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hussar View Post
    Here's the part you bolded:

    Ok, now, show me. How do you describe an orc or a githyanki without any attempt at literary quality.

    I'd say that it's equally important that not only does the narration offered by the GM make the players feel compelled to act AND it immerses them in the setting, allowing them to have clear, compelling mental images of what's going on.

    So, again, without ANY of what you are calling literary quality, describe an orc or a goblin in such a way that the players feel compelled to act AND differentiate between the two encounters.
    I don’t think description is the basis for a strive for literary quality. Description is essential to the interaction between GM and player....so I think it’s obvious that we’re talking about something more, no? I think that saying something clearly and saying something creatively are two different things (although there will be examples that fit both).

    Let’s say you’re in the lobby of a tall building, and someone asked you where is the elevator. You could say “continue straight down this hallway, make your second left, and the elevators will be on the right.”

    Or you could gesture to a crowd of folks arriving and say “Follow this pack of suited lemmings until you detect the pungent smell of despair as the tiny bell of doom tolls, letting them know their carriage of lost hope awaits.”

    One of these is simple and clear, but offers nothing beyond that clarity. The other is moody and (at least attempting to be) more creative, and offers something about the speaker and his views. And while the second may work in a novel, film, or show (especially something with a tone like Office Space) and may make the audience smile or help them understand the tone of the work, it does almost nothing for the person asking where the elevators are.

    To put this back toward RPGing and description.

    “The creature you see is humanoid, taller than the average human, and gaunt. It has leathery yellow skin, sunken eyes, and a rictus grin. Its armor is of a style you’ve never seen before. It wields a great silver sword that shines even in the near darkness. The creature scans about for signs of enemies. It does not appear to have noticed you, but it soon may. What do you do?”

    This would be my attempt to describe a githyanki clearly to my players, and to establish some action needed on their part. Obviously, I’d expect there to be a hit more context already established through play. Would you deem this insufficient for immersion? Do you think that my description goes beyond mere clarity in an attempt not to just say something, but to say it in a creative way?

    Also, can you provide an example of a bit of narration that aspires to literary quality and does so while still serving as a call to action?
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    Quote Originally Posted by hawkeyefan View Post
    Let’s say you’re in the lobby of a tall building, and someone asked you where is the elevator. You could say “continue straight down this hallway, make your second left, and the elevators will be on the right.”

    Or you could gesture to a crowd of folks arriving and say “Follow this pack of suited lemmings until you detect the pungent smell of despair as the tiny bell of doom tolls, letting them know their carriage of lost hope awaits.”

    One of these is simple and clear, but offers nothing beyond that clarity. The other is moody and (at least attempting to be) more creative, and offers something about the speaker and his views. And while the second may work in a novel, film, or show (especially something with a tone like Office Space) and may make the audience smile or help them understand the tone of the work, it does almost nothing for the person asking where the elevators are.
    The second isn't a literary answer to the question, which is probably why it does almost nothing for the person asking where the elevators are. Perhaps if you come up with an example that has both the increased literary quality AND answers the question, we can figure out which is better, worse, or whatever. Until then, these examples don't help us with this discussion.

    “The creature you see is humanoid, taller than the average human, and gaunt. It has leathery yellow skin, sunken eyes, and a rictus grin. Its armor is of a style you’ve never seen before. It wields a great silver sword that shines even in the near darkness. The creature scans about for signs of enemies. It does not appear to have noticed you, but it soon may. What do you do?”

    This would be my attempt to describe a githyanki clearly to my players, and to establish some action needed on their part. Obviously, I’d expect there to be a hit more context already established through play. Would you deem this insufficient for immersion? Do you think that my description goes beyond mere clarity in an attempt not to just say something, but to say it in a creative way?
    I think it's sufficient for immersion and wouldn't require a Q&A session to figure out what it looks like. I also think it qualifies as literary in quality. Your description has more literary quality than mine would. And yes, it goes beyond mere clarity to say something in a creative way.

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