A "theory" thread

"Low myth"? That's a new term. Okay.

There's no reason why that can't happen, but I certainly agree that is not commonplace or the expectation.
Low Myth, or what is apparently now being called 'Tabula Rasa' (blank slate for those who speak English and don't want to sound fancy) means there is no established fiction at the start of play, or at least the established fiction is pretty general and significantly 'open'. A DW game, for instance, is ideally starting with a true blank slate. The participants get together and have a Session Zero, before that NOTHING exists, there is no fiction, only presumably the fact that Dungeon World will be played, and therefor its tropes and genre will shape play.

The point being, in such a game, the sort of conversation that @chaochou outlined is ESTABLISHING, it is the initial creation of the fiction, there's no setting out there that this stuff fits into, no map that the GM is going to consult and decide "Oh, OK there's a village over here on the edge of a forest, so to the north must be the Orc Badlands, and the Dismal Dank is south of there, and the bad king must be the King of Farlong. Nope, there's nothing! The way things are, what is true, the facts are all going to come into being as the players and the GM explore, ask questions, solve problems, etc.

One HUGE fundamental consequence of this is that the GM doesn't get to say "Nope, you can't find a pirate treasure map that shows Treasure Island on the South Sea, because there is no ocean to the south! Actually, there is! I mean, unless it clashes with some other fiction already established in play, obviously.
 

log in or register to remove this ad

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
That's not to say that there aren't bumpers that serve to guide the players in a general direction in low myth games, but those bumpers emerge in play and in response to player choices, not as something the GM decides before hand.
 

clearstream

(He, Him)
Low Myth, or what is apparently now being called 'Tabula Rasa' (blank slate for those who speak English and don't want to sound fancy) means there is no established fiction at the start of play, or at least the established fiction is pretty general and significantly 'open'. A DW game, for instance, is ideally starting with a true blank slate. The participants get together and have a Session Zero, before that NOTHING exists, there is no fiction, only presumably the fact that Dungeon World will be played, and therefor its tropes and genre will shape play.

The point being, in such a game, the sort of conversation that @chaochou outlined is ESTABLISHING, it is the initial creation of the fiction, there's no setting out there that this stuff fits into, no map that the GM is going to consult and decide "Oh, OK there's a village over here on the edge of a forest, so to the north must be the Orc Badlands, and the Dismal Dank is south of there, and the bad king must be the King of Farlong. Nope, there's nothing! The way things are, what is true, the facts are all going to come into being as the players and the GM explore, ask questions, solve problems, etc.

One HUGE fundamental consequence of this is that the GM doesn't get to say "Nope, you can't find a pirate treasure map that shows Treasure Island on the South Sea, because there is no ocean to the south! Actually, there is! I mean, unless it clashes with some other fiction already established in play, obviously.
You'd agree though that the picture isn't usually so clear cut, right? DW has its fronts. It has some myth established via character classes and creatures. Stonetop, which I think has its roots in DW, is high myth (there are differences from other high myth games - as touched on in your closing paragraph - but it is very, very far from a tabula rasa.)

A game can have a lot or a little pre-authored situation and setting, and whatever it has can be more or less contingent. Although those interact, I see them as two separate dimensions. I'm not sure that D&D (speaking of 5e in particular) has any rule that forces this one way or another, rather that is down to principles groups bring with them to their play (which will often align of course with norms of the wider relevant community.)
 

pemerton

Legend
To add to @AbdulAlhazred's post - it is possible to do rather light myth even if starting with a pre-drawn setting map (eg, perhaps speaking from experience, the Greyhawk maps) if the setting map fits the game (its tropes and genre).

You just have to be prepared to plonk stuff down (in the "blanks" of DW's "draw maps, leave blanks" slogan). Eg in my Torchbearer game, in and about the Bandit Kingdoms there is a Wizard's Tower, and a Forgotten Temple Complex, and a Tower of Stars, that are not found on any map published by TSR or WotC.

Likewise in the BW game where I'm a player, I brought my PC in with backstory established by relationships, affiliations and reputations, etc; and then the GM suggested a place on the GH map that it would fit into. We actually found an online map with various castles and so on marked on it (along the Jewel River in the Pomarj) that are excellent for the abandoned fortresses of the Iron Tower, the order to which my PC belongs.

This is not to disagree with anything that @AbdulAlhazred or @chaochou have said. And I have played no myth games in that strict sense - eg a Vikings Cortex+ Heroic game. What my post probably does show is that, when we put together our game ideas, trope-type elements are more important to us than geographic relationships.
 

pemerton

Legend
You'd agree though that the picture isn't usually so clear cut, right? DW has its fronts. It has some myth established via character classes and creatures.
In the post that you quoted, @AbdulAlhazred referred to the fact that DW's "tropes and genre will shape play." But whether or not this includes the creatures in the rulebook seems up for grabs. There's no reason that I know of why a DW group is obliged to use those creatures.

As far as fronts are concerned, in what way are they "myth" in the relevant sense? Here is AW on fronts (pp 130, 132, 136):

Fill up your 1st session worksheet. List the players’ characters in the center circle. Think of the space around them as a map,
but with scarcity and lack instead of cardinal directions. As you name NPCs, place them on the map around the PCs, according to the fundamental scarcity that makes them a threat to the PCs. . . .

Listing each threat’s available resources will give you insight into who they are, what they need, and what they can do to get it. It’s especially useful to give some threats resources that the PCs need but don’t have. Now go back over it all. Pull it into its pieces. Solidify them into threats, following the rules [for fronts] . . .

Take these solid threats and build them up into fronts. . . .

A front has some apparently mechanical components, but it’s fundamentally conceptual, not mechanical. The purpose of your prep is to give you interesting things to say. As MC you’re going to be playing your fronts, playing your threats, but that doesn’t mean anything mechanical. It means saying what they do. It means offering opportunities to the players to have their characters do interesting things, and it means responding in interesting ways to what the players have their characters do.​

DW similarly says that "You’ll make your campaign front and first adventure fronts after your first session" (p 185, emphasis original).

So fronts are established out of the play of the first session - they are not "myth" that is brought to the table prior to play. And fronts do not serve the same purpose in framing or resolution as a map-and-key. They are not sources of constraint on framing ("When you turn the corner, you see . . .") and nor are they sources of constraint on resolution ("After searching for 10 minutes, you find . . .").

So comparing fronts to the "myth" that @Fenris-77 described - "huge load of pre-written setting stuff" - seems quite misleading to me.

Stonetop, which I think has its roots in DW, is high myth (there are differences from other high myth games - as touched on in your closing paragraph - but it is very, very far from a tabula rasa.)
I don't think the post you're replying to said anything about Stonetop.

A game can have a lot or a little pre-authored situation and setting, and whatever it has can be more or less contingent.
I reiterate that fronts are not pre-authored. And as per my discussion just above of map-and-key, there is a fundamental difference between prep that is binding in the way that a Moldvay Basic dungeon is - a source of restrictions on framing and on resolution - and prep of a front in DW or AW. It's not possible to talk about no-myth or low-myth play without having regard to that difference. Referring to "more or less contingent" obscures the difference and fails to illuminate what is going on in no-myth or low-myth play.
 

clearstream

(He, Him)
I reiterate that fronts are not pre-authored. And as per my discussion just above of map-and-key, there is a fundamental difference between prep that is binding in the way that a Moldvay Basic dungeon is - a source of restrictions on framing and on resolution - and prep of a front in DW or AW. It's not possible to talk about no-myth or low-myth play without having regard to that difference. Referring to "more or less contingent" obscures the difference and fails to illuminate what is going on in no-myth or low-myth play.
Yes, it does seem reasonable to give regard to the differences. To split hairs, I do not see DW as "no-myth" because to me, the presence of character classes such as a ranger, who can be an elf or half-elven, who can have an animal companion, provides traces of myth. You provided the term "low-myth" however, and undeniably it is lower myth than some other games.

I'm not sure that the obviation of myth turns on who authors it and when. If it is done at time T and there is a later time T' in which heed is given it, then there is myth at that later time. Perhaps it is felt that what is distinct about map-and-key is it is all done up-front before any play, but that is immediately contradicted by experience.

I introduced Stonetop to the conversation because - if one does agree it is high-myth - then perhaps that suggests that PbtA mechanics and at least some of its principles might not be welded to low-myth? Something else might be going on: another dimension of difference that can be separated somehow from the mechanics. I was hoping to explore that. I am open to the possibility that there are arguments that show how it is not a member of the notional category "high-myth".

Reflecting on authors, timing, and Stonetop, I felt that perhaps it is the contingency - the way that whatever myth is there is held - that is the stronger differentiator.
 



Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
In the sense in which the term was coined - yes, I think so. The BW game I gave an example of started from a blank slate. It's close enough to no myth that claims otherwise would be a point-scoring exercise rather than a genuine attempt to understand actual play techniques.
Most BW games have a fair bit of implied setting present in the character burner. Was that not the case in your example? I ask because BW and a lot of PbtA games are similar in how an implied setting is loaded into char gen as opposed to info dumps elsewhere.
 

Most BW games have a fair bit of implied setting present in the character burner. Was that not the case in your example? I ask because BW and a lot of PbtA games are similar in how an implied setting is loaded into char gen as opposed to info dumps elsewhere.
I don't regard this as meaningful addition to the discussion.
 
Last edited:

Remove ads

AD6_gamerati_skyscraper

Remove ads

Upcoming Releases

Top