GM DESCRIPTION: NARRATION OR CONVERSATION? - Page 15
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  1. #141
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Silverbane View Post
    There is also some player narration in there...
    They are having a conversation between narrators ...
    Laugh Michael Silverbane laughed with this post

  2. #142
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bedrockgames View Post
    It might be but I wouldnt describe that as narration or a scene
    Well, it is but I do understand where you are coming from. Compared to my typical example of play, your scene setting or frame setting is very sparse. You are expecting that the player will fill in any necessary details that he doesn't have with questions, and thus you are speeding play because you aren't giving the players details they don't want.

    In practice though, your artificial example feels really artificial. It works only presumably because the PC's already know quite a bit about the setting and there is almost nothing about the setting that they need to know. I suspect something like the following would happen in my game:

    ME: You get inside the city of Tung-On and the street you are on is filled with merchants and shop stalls
    PLAYER A: Can we see the Lucky Mountain Gambling Hall nearby?

    ME: Yes, it is just down the street, across from a bunch of inns.
    PLAYER B: I lead the way to the gambling hall

    ME: You get to the door there are men in blue robes at the entrance.
    PLAYER B: I step inside and look around for this Iron God Meng guy.

    ME: The door is in fact closed. When you reach to pull it open, one of the men in blue robes grabs you and says, "Where in the nine hells are you going? This is a private club."
    PLAYER A: Wait? He grabs me? I'm going to use my Tiger Kung Fu to resist as soon as he tries to touch me.

    ME: OK, roll for initiative.
    PLAYER B: This is great. I thought the plan was to call Iron God Meng out, not end up in a fight with the entire Turtle Clan.
    PLAYER A: You know, I assumed since you didn't say otherwise that the door was open. I wouldn't have even tried to go inside if I'd known the door was shut.

    ME: Err... yeah, it's a set of large stout doors, painted red like most of the building, with decorative iron plates covering most of the door.

    PLAYER A: Ok, so I jingle my coin string and say to the guards, "I've heard this was a fine tea house. I'd like to obtain a membership."

    ME: Ok, make a diplomacy check.
    PLAYER A: *fails* Crap.

    ME: The biggest and ugliest of the guards says. "This is private club. Get lost or you will regret it." You can tell he is spoiling for a fight and doesn't like you very much.
    PLAYER B: Crap, nice roll. Looks like we made them hostile. Ok I take a look over the building to see if there is another way in.

    ME: The building is highly ornate with florid wood carvings, repeating the theme of a Garuda. The metal plates on the doors feature a Gurada tossing coins in the air, and the corners of the roof...
    PLAYER B: Wait.. the sign of the gambling Garuda is on the doors?

    ME: Yes.
    PLAYER B: Why didn't you say so in the first place? I go up to the guards and say... Wait, damn it. I want a retcon. If you'd described to door in the first place, I would have never let Player A make the diplomacy check. There is no way I would have missed the sign of the Gambling Garuda if it was right there on the door.

    ME: *Sigh*, ok...

    Ect. Etc. Etc.

    Now maybe you could train the players to ask questions about everything, including things that might not be obvious and requires leaps of intuition, before they make an actual proposition, but that would tend to slow play as well. I find that there is a fine line between being too wordy and not wordy enough. And in particular, while I've gotten a few hints about what your setting might be like, there is so much detail missing that I can't be certain that I'm imagining what you see in your head. I can remember numerous cases where I discovered in the middle of play that one or more players at the table had been taking actions based on a different understanding of the scene than I thought I had framed. For example, I can remember describing a room that was bisected by a chasm, and some players envisioned this the same way I did, with a chasm cutting the room in two in such a way that it blocked progress toward the end of the room. However, one player had envisioned the room in a way that the chasm separated the room in to two parts 'left' and 'right', so that he could advance all the way down the left side, but not reach the right side of the room. Several rounds of actions transpired before I figured out that his plan was based on seeing something in his head entirely different than the rest of us.

    That issue is big enough that regardless of how you handle it, having a process for getting everyone on the same page so that they all see the same thing (part of how I define "cinematic") is something I consider really important to tabletop play. That's why I lean toward "both".
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  3. #143
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    Keep in mind this is an ongoing campaign so the players know the setting and cams to the city for a reason. I avoided giving a fight description because I didnt want to cloud the example. But there are specific martial arts moves in the system players know if they want to fight

  4. #144
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Silverbane View Post
    Player B's statements there are classic first person narration. Since there is no conflict or uncertainty to resolve in them, they require no further input from the DM, who simply continues narration descriptive dialogue assuming the new state of the fiction narrated by Player B.
    I agree that they are narration in a general ordinary non-jargon sense of the word, but strictly they are not narration as it is normally meant in the table top RPG world because the player hasn't proposed anything that extends outside his person. In jargon, these are just first person propositions stated as actions, and are really no different than "I attack the orc." Don't get me wrong, I think they are well phrased propositions and the example of play is very functional, but when people speak of player narration they are usually speaking of something different.

    Player narration formally would be something like, "I lead the way to the gambling hall. The merchants in the crowd sense we are dangerous men, and address us respectfully as we walk by. Peasants scurry to get out of the way of these formidable warriors, bowing deeply as we pass." The player is taking it on themselves to add to the scene things that are external to their own character. In essence, the player is in a limited way also playing the NPCs in the scene. Simply "narrating" what your character does (or at least, intends to do), isn't normally what I think of as "narration" by a player because the player isn't framing a scene.

  5. #145
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    Quote Originally Posted by Celebrim View Post
    That issue is big enough that regardless of how you handle it, having a process for getting everyone on the same page so that they all see the same thing (part of how I define "cinematic") is something I consider really important to tabletop play. That's why I lean toward "both".
    This doesn't really bother me actually. Most of the time, I think one of the best things about RPGs is we are all picturing things a bit differently (like when you read a book). I think that is fine. It can become a problem when tactics depend on accuracy. But in those moments I just allow players to ask questions and give them what information I can. But I don't fret over it as I am describing things initially.

  6. #146
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bedrockgames View Post
    It might be but I wouldnt describe that as narration or a scene
    But, see, at least three other people - @dragoner, @Michael Silverbane and myself WOULD describe this as bog standard narration and a scene. The fact that you happen to be using an idiosyncratic definition of the word seems to be the major sticking point here.

    Had you actually posted something like this a long time ago, when asked repeatedly to do so, would have saved a LOT of time.

    So, fair enough, call it a throat warbler mangrove if that floats your boat. For everyone else, this is just a scene (gambling den in a city) with (very sparse) narration. It requires that the players know the setting very, very well and that the majority of the details have already been established.

    This generally isn't true for my groups because we tend to change settings very often and rarely spend enough time in any one setting to have that level of familiarity that we can forego more details - as @Celebrim has very nicely illustrated.

    So, no, @Bedrockgames, it's not about any sort of semantic trap to show that you aren't playing the way you are. It's that you are playing more or less the same as everyone else, but, you want to call it something different and that's what's confusing the issue.

  7. #147
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hussar View Post
    But, see, at least three other people - @dragoner, @Michael Silverbane and myself WOULD describe this as bog standard narration and a scene. The fact that you happen to be using an idiosyncratic definition of the word seems to be the major sticking point here.
    .
    Well if three whole people on the internet say something, I guess I have to re-evaluate my whole worldview and what words I use how.

    I don't think I am using an idiosyncratic definition at all. And I've explained part of why I am so particular is because of issues around equivocation. But more important. Thinking of games in the terms you are insisting on makes play less enjoyable for me. What is more important, someone's argument on the internet, or what I see at my table in real life?

  8. #148
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hussar View Post
    Had you actually posted something like this a long time ago, when asked repeatedly to do so, would have saved a LOT of time.
    .
    I posted links to recordings and a youtube video. I was reluctant to post an example by text because I think it ran the risk of being very artificial (and for what it is worth I agree with Celebrim that it is artificial). I don't think it is very useful for discussion for that reason. But I just wanted to put out SOMETHING so you might have an idea of where I am coming from.

  9. #149
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hussar View Post
    But, see, at least three other people - @dragoner, @Michael Silverbane and myself WOULD describe this as bog standard narration and a scene. The fact that you happen to be using an idiosyncratic definition of the word seems to be the major sticking point here.
    It's amazing how many arguments depend on different understandings of what a word or phrase mean. Without knowing how exactly Bedrockgames defines narration or scene, I don't really know what his objection is in this case. But as best as I can tell Bedrockgames has right from the beginning of the thread tried to distinguish Narration from Conversation, and made it clear in his original post that for the purposes of the thread he was using both as terms of art. Quote:

    "This comes from a topic in another thread where GM description came up. Some posters saw the GM's role as that of narrator, preferring a style of description that felt like prose from a novel, others preferred a more conversational approach. The first approach was more literary, placed emphasis on being evocative and building a sense of atmosphere. The second focused more on plain spoken language and interaction between the players and GMs as the descriptions unfold."

    So, as for as his "idiosyncratic definition of the word" goes, he seems to have dutifully addressed that when he started the thread. Granted, that was a long time ago and I've made no attempt to follow all the twists and turns of this discussion.

  10. #150
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hussar View Post
    So, no, @Bedrockgames, it's not about any sort of semantic trap to show that you aren't playing the way you are. It's that you are playing more or less the same as everyone else, but, you want to call it something different and that's what's confusing the issue.
    Again, how we think of what we are doing at the table matters. Thinking that it is a scene carries all kinds of implications that I believe influences GM adjudication. I know this, because when I think of it as a scene, I run the game differently. Also, it is a confusing term because while you might mean scene to refer to 'stuff that happens' and you might mean 'narration' to refer to 'what the GM says to describe things'. For many people, a lot in fact, the former refers to a pre-planned moment with expected beats and actions (i.e. this is going to be the scene where they confront the BIG BAD). Personally I think narration also is a confusing term, particularly when it is paired with scene in the way you were doing. Again, it suggests the GM has something to narrate that the players need to listen to. I don't like thinking of myself as a narrator for this reason. Also narration and narrative have all kinds of meanings that make that terms particularly confusing as well. What is wrong with 'description'? That gets the job done, doesn't imply more literary things, and is definitely what i am doing in my example.

    I don't know we are playing the same way, given that many people here have expressed preferences for things like Paizo modules. But in terms of GM description, I'd have to see your text example to draw a conclusion on that.

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