Is RPGing a *literary* endeavour? - Page 37
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  1. #361
    Quote Originally Posted by Hussar View Post
    @Henry, I SO am stealing that line for my next D&D session.
    I can’t take credit for it, sadly — Stu Venable from Happy Jack’s RPG Podcast is friggin’ hilarious.

  2. #362
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hriston View Post
    I’m not sure what you mean by “well enough”. I’m claiming that as long as the situation is clearly understood by the players, which is an issue with communication, not with quality of form/literary merit, and it fails to interest them nevertheless, that focusing on the artistry of its presentation is unlikely to generate the desired interest in the situation and is more likely to resemble some other form of entertainment that relies on such artistry, like a novel or a movie.
    If you're not sure what I mean refer to the last post by @Maxperson for a pretty succinct explanation.

    If what you are claiming above is true then if given the same quality content that is communicated clearly there should never be deviation in how players respond to it (either being interested or not interested)... which begs the question if it's purely a question of quality of content and clarity then why can numerous DM's try to hook their players to interact with the same content and get totally different responses from their players insofar as interest is concerned? Are you saying any and every DM who can't get his players interested in quality content must not be clearly communicating with their players? If not what are you saying is the cause?


    Quote Originally Posted by Hriston View Post
    My bad. I was using “flowery language” as a euphemism for formal quality in narration, which I thought was fairly obvious. Sorry if that has caused any confusion in the discussion.
    Oh I was just making sure you understood that one did not equate to the other but it appears you already knew that and still chose to use "flowery language".

  3. #363
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    @pemerton - perhaps I missed it, but, the point I brought up about using literary techniques, IMO, does speak strongly to the notion that we do need "literary qualities" in an RPG. Without trope, theme, character, and the like, an RPG is simply a really complex board game. All of these aspects, all of these literary techniques, be it clarity of explanation, foreshadowing (which, @Bedrockgames, I accept that you do not use, but are present in MANY modules), pathetic fallacies, language to evoke tone and mood, the use of in medias res techniques. Flashbacks. Since we're going to start quoting from esoteric RPG's that virtually no one plays, I've played 3:16 Carnage Beyond the Stars which uses flashback as a major element of the game. Never minding games like Amber Diceless and the like which force the players to use language to define in game events.

    Heck, even the notion of Aspects as a driving feature of play (from FATE, or the like) is drawn straight from literary techniques and improv techniques as well.

    @Bedrockgames brushes this off by saying that RPG's borrow from the literary. I'm not sure why that suddenly matters. It comes from literary sources, and , it influences how RPG's work, thus RPGing becomes something of a literary endevour. Oh, and, let's not forget things like LARP or the like, which is even more heavily dependent upon the literary and theatrical. Or, perhaps those aren't really RPG's?

    I'm frankly baffled how anyone could come to the conclusion that the literary isn't required in an RPG. Or, to put it another way, without referring to a single element from literature writing or creation, like genre, mood or tone, explain why I can't play a Jedi in your D&D game. Or a Star Fleet officer. In the game with the English Butler, why can't I be a viking or a catgirl or an animated teapot?

  4. #364
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    I just realized that there is a very simple test we can perform to prove my point.

    Can I play a character in your game that is 100% outside of genre? So, an elven wizard in a Call of Cthulu game or a Battlemech Pilot in your D&D game, or whatever. Can I sit down at your table with a character that is completely wrong for the genre of your game and play that character?

    If you just said no, then literary is core to your game. Because the only justification, really, is that such a character is breaking genre. If the literary was of so little importance that it doesn't even rate at your table, then you should have not so much as a quibble when I show up to your Pendragon game with a Deadpool knockoff.

    Sure, you can argue about power problems, but, I can always come up with genre breaking examples where the power levels wouldn't be an issue (a jedi in a D&D game for example) but, there is zero chance that a DM would let me play it.

    Thus, Rpging is a literary endevour.

  5. #365
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hussar View Post
    I just realized that there is a very simple test we can perform to prove my point.

    Can I play a character in your game that is 100% outside of genre? So, an elven wizard in a Call of Cthulu game or a Battlemech Pilot in your D&D game, or whatever. Can I sit down at your table with a character that is completely wrong for the genre of your game and play that character?

    If you just said no, then literary is core to your game. Because the only justification, really, is that such a character is breaking genre. If the literary was of so little importance that it doesn't even rate at your table, then you should have not so much as a quibble when I show up to your Pendragon game with a Deadpool knockoff.

    Sure, you can argue about power problems, but, I can always come up with genre breaking examples where the power levels wouldn't be an issue (a jedi in a D&D game for example) but, there is zero chance that a DM would let me play it.

    Thus, Rpging is a literary endevour.
    This is fine if, by literary endeavour, you means an activity that deploys and/or relies upon some devices used in literary composition. But that's not what the OP meant, and I think it is fairly clear what the OP did mean: quality of composition, with particular reference to the narration and descriptions used by the GM.

    Using genre tropes and policing genre boundaries doesn't really bear upon this.

    Quote Originally Posted by Hussar View Post
    @pemerton - perhaps I missed it, but, the point I brought up about using literary techniques, IMO, does speak strongly to the notion that we do need "literary qualities" in an RPG. Without trope, theme, character, and the like, an RPG is simply a really complex board game. All of these aspects, all of these literary techniques, be it clarity of explanation, foreshadowing (which, @Bedrockgames, I accept that you do not use, but are present in MANY modules), pathetic fallacies, language to evoke tone and mood, the use of in medias res techniques. Flashbacks. Since we're going to start quoting from esoteric RPG's that virtually no one plays, I've played 3:16 Carnage Beyond the Stars which uses flashback as a major element of the game. Never minding games like Amber Diceless and the like which force the players to use language to define in game events.

    Heck, even the notion of Aspects as a driving feature of play (from FATE, or the like) is drawn straight from literary techniques and improv techniques as well.

    @Bedrockgames brushes this off by saying that RPG's borrow from the literary. I'm not sure why that suddenly matters. It comes from literary sources, and , it influences how RPG's work, thus RPGing becomes something of a literary endevour. Oh, and, let's not forget things like LARP or the like, which is even more heavily dependent upon the literary and theatrical. Or, perhaps those aren't really RPG's?

    I'm frankly baffled how anyone could come to the conclusion that the literary isn't required in an RPG. Or, to put it another way, without referring to a single element from literature writing or creation, like genre, mood or tone, explain why I can't play a Jedi in your D&D game. Or a Star Fleet officer. In the game with the English Butler, why can't I be a viking or a catgirl or an animated teapot?
    Again, most of this is rebutting a claim that was not made.

    Children use genre conceits, and sometimes even flashbacks, in playing make believe and telling stories with their Lego constructs. But those aren't literary endeavours in the sense the OP has in mind: the quality of the narration/description isn't relevant to those activities.

    How can you think that referring to Amber diceless, in which player use language to define events, possibly rebuts a claim that begins with the premise that RPGing involves narration and description?

    Quote Originally Posted by Imaro View Post
    If what you are claiming above is true then if given the same quality content that is communicated clearly there should never be deviation in how players respond to it (either being interested or not interested)... which begs the question if it's purely a question of quality of content and clarity then why can numerous DM's try to hook their players to interact with the same content and get totally different responses from their players insofar as interest is concerned? Are you saying any and every DM who can't get his players interested in quality content must not be clearly communicating with their players? If not what are you saying is the cause?
    Obviously I'm not @Hriston, but I assume that Hriston's answer would be the same as mine: what counts as quality material, in the context of RPGing, is not context-independent.
    XP Hriston, darkbard gave XP for this post

  6. #366
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hussar View Post
    I just realized that there is a very simple test we can perform to prove my point.

    Can I play a character in your game that is 100% outside of genre? So, an elven wizard in a Call of Cthulu game or a Battlemech Pilot in your D&D game, or whatever. Can I sit down at your table with a character that is completely wrong for the genre of your game and play that character?

    If you just said no, then literary is core to your game. Because the only justification, really, is that such a character is breaking genre. If the literary was of so little importance that it doesn't even rate at your table, then you should have not so much as a quibble when I show up to your Pendragon game with a Deadpool knockoff.

    Sure, you can argue about power problems, but, I can always come up with genre breaking examples where the power levels wouldn't be an issue (a jedi in a D&D game for example) but, there is zero chance that a DM would let me play it.

    Thus, Rpging is a literary endevour.
    I consider genre fiction and literature two very different things. And once again, even if I didn't make that distinction. The fact that other mediums are present doesn't make RPG those things. RPGs borrow from movies all the time too. That doesn't make RPGs a cinematic endeavor. Now if you want your RPGs to be cinematic, great! Go for it. But don't tell other people their RPGs have to be literary or cinematic just because you like like it (by the way, I am a fan of games with a cinematic bent). Don't you see how this is ultimately just a playstyle argument as you are presenting it?

  7. #367
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hussar View Post

    Can I play a character in your game that is 100% outside of genre? So, an elven wizard in a Call of Cthulu game or a Battlemech Pilot in your D&D game, or whatever. Can I sit down at your table with a character that is completely wrong for the genre of your game and play that character?
    Not all people care about genre. I care about genre. So I would consider genre when such a character was present. But I know plenty of GMs who don't and the thing they would consider, rather than genre, is the setting and whether your character makes sense. Genre emulation is great. Not everyone is into it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hussar View Post
    All of these aspects, all of these literary techniques, be it clarity of explanation, foreshadowing (which, @Bedrockgames, I accept that you do not use, but are present in MANY modules), pathetic fallacies, language to evoke tone and mood, the use of in medias res techniques. Flashbacks. Since we're going to start quoting from esoteric RPG's that virtually no one plays, I've played 3:16 Carnage Beyond the Stars which uses flashback as a major element of the game. Never minding games like Amber Diceless and the like which force the players to use language to define in game events.
    Being present in many modules doesn't make something core or essential. Also, the techniques you are discussing are techniques a lot of GMs don't use. I'd say there is a pretty big stylistic divide around many of those. Not saying they are bad, or not fun. Just things like flashbacks are definitely not for everyone. Starting in medias res, is not for everyone. I come from a much more traditional approach than many of the posters in this thread, and am simply not the kind of GM to use those techniques.

    Heck, even the notion of Aspects as a driving feature of play (from FATE, or the like) is drawn straight from literary techniques and improv techniques as well.
    And that is fine, but that is also why I don't play fate. Look, I am not against borrowing from other mediums. I wrote a 500 page game book that models the wuxia genre. However I would hardly call the game literary. It is a genre game. But when I set about modeling the genre elements I took pains to avoid doing things that put the literary elements front and center over the world and immersion. I drew a line, and baked genre into the cosmology, into the physics of the world, but tried to keep it from being things like meta-resources. Again, not saying this is the best or only approach (many games succeed well doing things like Fate). I am just trying to point out some of us are very cautious about employing techniques from other mediums.

    @Bedrockgames brushes this off by saying that RPG's borrow from the literary. I'm not sure why that suddenly matters. It comes from literary sources, and , it influences how RPG's work, thus RPGing becomes something of a literary endevour. Oh, and, let's not forget things like LARP or the like, which is even more heavily dependent upon the literary and theatrical. Or, perhaps those aren't really RPG's?
    I was pointing out that RPGS borrow from other mediums all the time. But this is often just a veneer. As someone much smarter than me keeps telling me, there is a different between borrowing veneer and using the structure of a thing. When you sit down to play a game modeled on a particular movie genre, you are not sitting down to watch a movie (you are still sitting down to play a game). But I've stated repeatedly I don't consider genre stuff to be literary anyways. I think literary is a very, very high bar. And Pemerton just clarified what he meant by literary in his OP. You are attacking arguments that we are not making, or not examining the full breath of our arguments.

    I'm frankly baffled how anyone could come to the conclusion that the literary isn't required in an RPG. Or, to put it another way, without referring to a single element from literature writing or creation, like genre, mood or tone, explain why I can't play a Jedi in your D&D game. Or a Star Fleet officer. In the game with the English Butler, why can't I be a viking or a catgirl or an animated teapot?
    You are arguing against a point people are not trying to make.

  9. #369
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    Quote Originally Posted by pemerton View Post
    This is fine if, by literary endeavour, you means an activity that deploys and/or relies upon some devices used in literary composition. But that's not what the OP meant, and I think it is fairly clear what the OP did mean: quality of composition, with particular reference to the narration and descriptions used by the GM.
    Another thread that has fallen victim to the PRP(Pemerton Redefinition Program). When you try to redefine something in order to fit your narrow usage, you naturally and correctly get a lot of push back by people who understand the actual definition. What you have done is the following.

    Pemerton: Does D&D have money? I'm going to define money as pieces of paper with no inherent value, but that society ascribes value to and uses for currency. I'm going to say no.

    Others: Um, D&D uses pieces of gold, silver, electrum, copper and platinum as currency, so it does have money.

    Pemerton: This is fine if, by money, you mean something you use as currency. But that's not what the OP meant, and I think it's fairly clear what the OP did mean...

    You are basically derailing your threads right from the OP when you do this. People are not going to let you get away with these outrageous redefinitions.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Bedrockgames View Post
    I consider genre fiction and literature two very different things. And once again, even if I didn't make that distinction. The fact that other mediums are present doesn't make RPG those things. RPGs borrow from movies all the time too. That doesn't make RPGs a cinematic endeavor. Now if you want your RPGs to be cinematic, great! Go for it. But don't tell other people their RPGs have to be literary or cinematic just because you like like it (by the way, I am a fan of games with a cinematic bent). Don't you see how this is ultimately just a playstyle argument as you are presenting it?
    You can play the game without being cinematic, but unless you bare bones descriptions to "You see a guy wearing plate mail and holding a sword," you are being literary with your descriptions. As soon as you tell us that he has sandy blond hair, you are being literary. If he has battered plate mail, or gleaming plate mail and you let the players know that, you are being literary. You basically have to completely ignore adjectives to avoid being literary with your descriptions, and I've never played in a game like that. Nor would I ever want play in a game like that.
    XP Hussar, Imaro gave XP for this post

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