Is RPGing a *literary* endeavour? - Page 29
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  1. #281
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    Quote Originally Posted by pemerton View Post
    People spend millions of dollars painting buildings, too. That doesn't show that painting buildings is per se an artistic endeavour - maybe it is (if we're painting St Peters), maybe it's not (if we're painting a block of flats to protect the exterior against the weather).

    I'm a published author in a natural language based but technical discipline. (Or in fact two such disciplines: law and philosophy.) I deliver lectures and other sorts of public or semi-public addresses as a key part of my job. I know a fair bit about writing and a little bit about spoken presentation.

    When I referee an article and send it back for rewriting because it's confused; or when I mark up a student's work and tell her or him how it needs to be restructured to make the argument clear; these are not literary considerations. They have nothing to do with evoking emotion through the use of formal compositional/recitational devices.

    I guess someone somewhere once has been moved by the ingenuity of the Ikea instructions - the world is full of all types - but I don't think anyone is expecting the instruction drafter to be nominated for the Nobel prize.
    So, in your mind, an RPG is akin to technical writing? No emotion whatsoever. The only emotional connection comes when you put together that shelf, as it were?

    I would imagine, as well, when writing academic papers, that evoking an emotional response would not be the point either.

    But, when writing a scenario for an RPG, evoking an emotional response very much IS the point.
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  2. #282
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hussar View Post
    What do you think a module is? If not a rough script? Since this whole conversation came out of the notion of using boxed text for modules, it does seem rather apropos. Come right down to it, what do you think happens in most RGP sessions? Do you really believe that most RPG sessions don't have a rough script, typically written by the GM, although, that can vary with more "pass the story stick" style games?
    )
    Some do have a rough script but many don't.

  3. #283
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hussar View Post
    I would imagine, as well, when writing academic papers, that evoking an emotional response would not be the point either.

    But, when writing a scenario for an RPG, evoking an emotional response very much IS the point.
    I think it is a mix. You definitely want modules* to excite interest in the GM. And there are different ways to do that. But ultimately a module needs to be run smoothly at the table, so I think greater priority is often given to clearly places concise information that the GM can grab hold of in the heat of play. There is also definitely room for evocative stuff, but I think that is best placed in the introduction and in other places that you are not sifting through live in play (or at least keeping the evocative stuff brief so it doesn't make look-up too difficult).

    *Trying to respond to your post about modules as well here

  4. #284
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    Quote Originally Posted by pemerton View Post
    A complication for me in responding to Lanefan's question is what is the story which is not progressing?
    For these purposes it doesn't matter. The session consists of the characters sitting on a ship, or around a campfire or at some other uninterrupted down-ish-time, just carrying on a conversation that's all done via in-character role-play at the table. This conversation could reference stuff the characters have already done/met in the established fiction (i.e. they're telling war stories from past adventures), or could reference their backgrounds and histories ("so how did you end up here anyway?"), or their outlooks toward things ("if the Duke upped his taxes by half, would you pay them?" "When you raid a village of Orcs, do you kill the young?") - whatever, as long as they're talking in character.

    When I referee an article and send it back for rewriting because it's confused; or when I mark up a student's work and tell her or him how it needs to be restructured to make the argument clear; these are not literary considerations. They have nothing to do with evoking emotion through the use of formal compositional/recitational devices.
    Might not have anything to do with emotion, but clarity is still a significant element of presentation no matter what you're presenting or why. Thus, editing for grammar and-or clarity is very much a literary consideration.

    Going back to the family-letter example - if the handwriting is nearly unreadable (like mine!) the letter is by default going to have less impact than if the handwriting was clear and legible, because the reader will face a greater struggle to comprehend it. Ditto if the spelling is all over the place, and (to a lesser extent) the grammar.
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  5. #285
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bedrockgames View Post
    Some do have a rough script but many don't.
    What module does not have a rough script? I have several years of Dungeon Magazine as well as a pretty hefty collection of other modules, and, AFAIK, a rough script is exactly what a module is. Heck, if you make a simple dungeon crawl, all that really is is a flowchart with decision points of a rough script.

    In what way is a module not a rough script? It tells you what happens where and when. What more does a script need?

  6. #286
    “Can be?” Yes, absolutely. See everything from Dragonlance, to Sepulchrave’s Story Hour, here on these very forums. (I would argue Sepluchrave’s “Tales of Wyre” are an even purer form of that, since it arose directly from play.)

    “Is, as in always?” Absolutely not. Some games can be basically Doom or Duke Nukem, writ large in a fantasy setting. For every “Tales of Wyre”, there are three tables of players shouting, “STOP TALKING TO MY EXPERIENCE POINTS!!”
    Laugh Hussar, Riley37 laughed with this post

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bedrockgames View Post
    And this is why the discussion isn't really going anywhere, it is about this divide. I certainly don't mind being entertained by others, I just don't see it as why I am there to game. I am there for the immersive experience and for the interaction with my friends. If I viewed it as them being there to entertain me, it just feels strange. Doesn't mean the session isn't lively, people don't talk in character, or that people don't make one another laugh (they frequently do). It just isn't consciously performative.
    If the player is talking in character, it is performative, though. Stepping into the character first person is you performing what the character is saying. Talking about what the character says in third person would not be. Third person is not talking in character. It's just descriptive.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Maxperson View Post
    If the player is talking in character, it is performative, though. Stepping into the character first person is you performing what the character is saying. Talking about what the character says in third person would not be. Third person is not talking in character. It's just descriptive.
    But, even in third person, it can still be performative. "Grgur walks cautiously down the hallway, looking carefully to see if there is anything out of place" is perfomative - you have desciptors like "cautiously" and "carefully". Compared to "Grgur strides down the hall." Both are third person, but, both are using language specifically chosen to evoke a particular scene. A non-descriptive would simply be, "Grgur moves down the hall". That's content without performance.

    @Henry, I SO am stealing that line for my next D&D session.

    A perfect example of a dungeon that is pure content without any literary elements would be the dungeon I attached to this post. Would anyone say that this is what a module looks like?
    Attached Files Attached Files  

  9. #289
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hussar View Post
    I think you missed a quote tag in your quote of me, so, if I missed something there, my bad))
    Thanks for the heads up - I've deleted the stray material in that post.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hussar View Post
    this whole conversation came out of the notion of using boxed text for modules
    As per the OP, it came from multiple recent threads. One was the boxed text thread. Another was the action declaration thread ("DC to know a NPC is telling the truth"). In that second thread, there were some posters who seemed to equate describing a PC's action as a component of action declaration with a florid or literary account of what the PC is doing.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hussar View Post
    What do you think a module is? If not a rough script?

    <snip>

    what do you think happens in most RGP sessions? Do you really believe that most RPG sessions don't have a rough script, typically written by the GM

    <snip>

    Unless your DM/GM is really, really good at improvising every single session, every single time, and has zero idea where the campaign is moving towards, you have a rough script. And, certainly, if you are using a module, or moreso with an Adventure Path, you have a very strong "rough script".
    I would normally think of a module as a series of situations. Invitations to action declaration.

    If there is really a rough script then the outcomes of those action declarations must be known in advance. Which is to say that the action declarations don't really matter to how things unfold. If that is how someone is approaching RPGing, then I can see how my characterisation of it in the OP might have little applicability. And how they might look at performance as central to what is going on.

  10. #290
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hussar View Post
    What module does not have a rough script? I have several years of Dungeon Magazine as well as a pretty hefty collection of other modules, and, AFAIK, a rough script is exactly what a module is. Heck, if you make a simple dungeon crawl, all that really is is a flowchart with decision points of a rough script.

    In what way is a module not a rough script? It tells you what happens where and when. What more does a script need?
    That isn't a rough script. A rough script would be something like an adventure path where there is a clear sense of direction. There are plenty of modules that are just explorations of regions for example. Isle of Dread, once your there, is pretty open in that respect. Living Adventures, Situational Adventures and Sandboxes, are just a few examples of module structures that avoid rough scripts. These days it is very easy to get modules that completely avoid rough script in favor of more sandbox-like material. Some might have traces of rough script in them here and there (though a lot of times those are just there for training wheels purposes, and intended to be ignored by solid GMs, like Scourge of the Demon Wolf). When I write adventure modules I specifically avoid anything that feels like rough script. I may provide a hook or some kind of starting point for the sake of convenience. But once the module starts it is more about the exploration of locations, the interactions of living NPCs, and the dynamic produced by all that once you drop in PCs. Maybe we just disagree on what a rough script is. But I would definitely not regard these kinds of modules as being that.

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