At the Intersection of Skilled Play, System Intricacy, Prep, and Story Now

pemerton

Legend
Alright, so now let’s subtly perturb our thoughts exercise:

* Resolving the impending doom IS an alleged primary site of conflict in the game (rather than being premise constraintand provocation).

* During actual play, getting to the final scene or the final scene itself (where you try to resolve the impending doom) involves Force which subverts the rightful (rightful here meaning - what the premise + procedures/principles/reward system is designed to engage with, propel, and resolve) input that players are supposed to have had.




I hope we can all agree that is quite a different deal/play experience/design than the one I put on offer above.
Sure. It's become an example of some of the crap play I encountered in the early and mid-90s!

EDITED in a spirit of amelioration:

Here's a third variation:

The doom is coming, the players are expected to engage with it in some fashion in their play, but everyone knows it's not going to be avoided. Action declarations are mostly either low-stakes and evince character colour; or are high stakes in relation to some aspect of how the doom is manifesting and developing, but won't alter it's basic trajectory.

What system do I have in mind? Call of Cthulhu.

Can it be fun? Absolutely, if the colour is engaging and the GM's narration vibrant.
 
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pemerton

Legend
The statement that men have the capacity to be tall does no work, it makes no predictions
Not all analysis and explanation is about prediction. Some is intended to support intervention: for instance, if men have the capacity to be tall, we might go about finding out how to realise or exploit this capacity. And sometimes simply noting a possibility can wildly change the scope for human action.

The discovery that law has the capacity to be changed was fairly fundamental in making modern government possible. Conversely, noting the limits of that capacity, in various contexts, is fairly fundamental to making sense of successes and failures in state building and associated development projects.

To drag this back to the topic, an example of play that appears to be a thing doesn't b tell much. Are most moments of play this? Are many? Are few? A scene description of play that appears to be Story Now says nothing towards the next moment. This a game that toggles between some scenes that have dramatic treatment and others that are hard railroad might, with a specific example, be mistakenly categorized.

Play examples are excellent sources of illumination for general arguments. They do almost nothing on their own. The demand to only discuss in terms of examples of play is flawed.
Here we find ourselves in fairly hard disagreement. All of Edwards's work is based on actual play. My personal engagement with his essays has been through the lens of my own play. There is no "general theory" of Story Now RPGing that is independent of the possibilities of play.

Actual play reveals new possibilities. For instance, I discovered, by actually playing the excellent Prince Valiant scenario The Crimson Bull, that it is possible to stretch out what is, in functional terms, scene-framing, for more than an hour of play, with the PCs moving from place to place during the framing, and the players having to make some decisions and resolve action declarations during that process. The difference from a railroad was not the presence or absence of pre-scripted material, but the relationship of that material to the crunch-point of thematic decision-making.

Threads in which the "quantum ogre" is decried as railroading are a dime-a-dozen, but without some account of what matters and what doesn't - does it matter that we meet an ogre, and if it does, does it matter that we meet it here rather than there? - it's impossible to tell whether protagonism was being fostered, thwarted, or not even on the table. It's actual play that reveals - by allowing us to try it out! - how elements of the fiction can be used to frame, to oppose or challenge, to impose consequences, etc.

Decreeing that, at time X, the space station will shut down as its fuel runs out, need not have anything to do with railroading. It's a "campaign" with a finite in-fiction scope, known from the start; and players declare their actions within that context. Within the confines of that framework there seems to me to be ample scope for player protagonism, and it needn't stop being "story now" just because no one has a resupply action that they can declare.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
Not all analysis and explanation is about prediction. Some is intended to support intervention: for instance, if men have the capacity to be tall, we might go about finding out how to realise or exploit this capacity. And sometimes simply noting a possibility can wildly change the scope for human action.
You've shifted goalposts, but we can address this anyway. For analysis to occur you have to have a deeper base of examples to compare against or a theory to evaluate against. Both require more that a single example and are, in fact, testing a general theory against a specific example. Exploration of capacity requires some understanding of the prevalence of the capacity, else this argument suggests it's prefecture fine to, say, create a 7 finger glove company because the only man you met had 7 fingers. The reality here is that while humans have the capacity to have 7 fingers, it is an extremely rare mutation and one that has no regular expression when it happens. Blind extrapolation from specific examples to general assumption is not valuable.

And none of this actually addresses the initial complaint I made -- that requiring only play examples vice theory is a poor way to approach discussion of how play works in general. This allows things like playing a game that is not structured as Story Now to be declared Story Now based on what appears to be the participants feelings on the matter. Both you and @chaochou declare your play in games where consensus resolution was present as Story Now with no examples of play that supported this assertion, but @chaochou is insisting that my arguments have to be paid with acceptable play examples and you're defending the idea. Please practice what you peach.
The discovery that law has the capacity to be changed was fairly fundamental in making modern government possible. Conversely, noting the limits of that capacity, in various contexts, is fairly fundamental to making sense of successes and failures in state building and associated development projects.
Total non sequitur, and please provide evidence that laws were assumed immeasurable and when it was discovered there were not. Because, no.
Here we find ourselves in fairly hard disagreement. All of Edwards's work is based on actual play. My personal engagement with his essays has been through the lens of my own play. There is no "general theory" of Story Now RPGing that is independent of the possibilities of play.
Edwards examined actual play, yes, but this claim means he did no thinking outside of those examples -- ir, forming hypothesis about play and then testing it by examining more play and running his ideas. Edwards absolutely did NOT form his thinking based on a single play example and routinely uses play examples to illuminate his thinking, not as individual basis.

Soecific as a wird is doing work, here. Pkease acknowledge that work and stop replacing it with karfer data sets and tgeory.
Actual play reveals new possibilities. For instance, I discovered, by actually playing the excellent Prince Valiant scenario The Crimson Bull, that it is possible to stretch out what is, in functional terms, scene-framing, for more than an hour of play, with the PCs moving from place to place during the framing, and the players having to make some decisions and resolve action declarations during that process. The difference from a railroad was not the presence or absence of pre-scripted material, but the relationship of that material to the crunch-point of thematic decision-making.
Where did I say that experience cannot teach? Another strawman. I said you cannot argue from specific example to general state. This isn't at all about learning through experience. It's saying that given a play example in isolation we cannot make general statements about play (aside from the banal "it can hapoen"). You haven't done so. You're relying on far more than just the example when you make claims here -- you're 100% relying on non-example theory to analyze and evaluate that play. You are, in fact, using the general to evaluate the specific.
Threads in which the "quantum ogre" is decried as railroading are a dime-a-dozen, but without some account of what matters and what doesn't - does it matter that we meet an ogre, and if it does, does it matter that we meet it here rather than there? - it's impossible to tell whether protagonism was being fostered, thwarted, or not even on the table. It's actual play that reveals - by allowing us to try it out! - how elements of the fiction can be used to frame, to oppose or challenge, to impose consequences, etc.
Another non sequitur strawman. Nothing I've said conjures this, but again you're relying on a general theory of what matters to evaluate the specific example. Absent the general theory if what matters (and there are competing theories here) the example does not reveal much of anything. And, depending on the theory used, the example reveals different things. We cannot then say that there us some general truth to the example if the theory used to evaluate it (already we're logically unsound in this example) results in different and conflicting comclusions.
Decreeing that, at time X, the space station will shut down as its fuel runs out, need not have anything to do with railroading. It's a "campaign" with a finite in-fiction scope, known from the start; and players declare their actions within that context. Within the confines of that framework there seems to me to be ample scope for player protagonism, and it needn't stop being "story now" just because no one has a resupply action that they can declare.
And now a change of topic, but okay. If there is a fixed endpoint to the game, then we have a couple of things that are added to the game:
A. There is now a set of potential play that is in theme and genre that is not allowed, and Force (either GM or system) must be deployed to deny and actions in that set. The defense here is that players agree to not engage this set of actions or do so with expectation they will be denied through Force. Which is a solution, but doesn't really mean that Force is absent, just that everyone agrees to it. I find this different from genre adherence because while genre also constrains the set of permissible actions, it isn't doing so to create specific outcomes.

B. The fixed scenario introduces pacing and spotlighting needs. Since there is a fixed endpoint and play must move towards it, there is now a pressure to ensure pacing towards that so that the scenario end is putting the necessary time pressure on play. Further, since play is limited, there's a need to make sure each player gets enough time in play to address their wants. These combine to create pressure on fiction first and thereby Story Now play. Pacing is either going to be via GM enforcement or system enforcement. Both distort play. GM enforcement has obvious distorting effects as the GM will be making choices for play not based on following play and driving to PC dramatic needs but on story shape and timing. That cuts against Story Now. Spotlighting has similar issues, but I'll readily admit these are lesser.

If the pacing structure is system enforced, then it will built to drive a more traditional story arc. It has to, because it's enforcing a structure to play. Enforced structure clearly cuts against following the dramatic need to the characters.
 

pemerton

Legend
Earlier this year I finally picked up a (PDF) copy of My Life With Master (which had the added benefit of a very pleasant email exchange with Paul Czege, a designer whom I admire greatly).

I skimmed it when I got it, but have just now read it closely. I think it bears directly upon some of the themes of @Manbearcat's OP.

Players in MLWM play minions who serve a NPC Master - think, broadly, of a gothic horror setup. The action is driven by the relationships between various stats: Fear (the degree of terror the Master exercises over both the minions and the townsfolk), Reason (the tendency of normalcy to prevail despite the depredations of the Master and their minions), Self-Loathing (a minion's self-hatred that gives them power over the Townsfolk but also gives the Master power over them), Weariness (a minion's lack of will to resist or to try) and Love (a minion's degree of human connection to one or more ordinary people).

Dice pools to resolve conflicts are built out of these stats (eg test F+SL vs L-W to see if a minion obeys a command from their Master). And certain relationships between the stats also trigger events (eg if W > R, then a minion is captured): most importantly, if a minion resists a command from their Master and L > F+W, then the endgame is triggered: the minion and their Master are locked in struggle, and the Master will die, but until that happens (which is a function of dice rolls), the other players get a series of scenes, in turn, in which we find out what is happening to their PCs as everything comes to its culmination.

Once the Master dies, each player narrates the epilogue for their minion, but in accordance with constraints established by the relationships of the various stats. For instance, if SL > W+R then the minion in question destroys themself; but if W > SL + R then the minion flees or wanders off, unable to bear to go on. Only if L+R > SL+W is the minion able to integrate themself into ordinary society.

In the rulebook (pp 38, 40), Czege comments directly on the interaction between the system elements I've described in the preceding two paragraphs:

The GM alternates, after each such roll [to see if the Master has been killed], between rounds of framing scenes without player input
and rounds of framing scenes called for by the players. Presumably it could take a few cycles of this before the Master is dead, all the while the players are sorting out the final trait values that will inform their individual Epilogues, likely working with intent toward having certain desired outcomes available to their characters.​

Clearly there is scope for skilful play here, as different sorts of scenes, and different approaches to a GM-framed scene, provide opportunities for different sorts of conflicts, which in turn can yield different sorts of consequences for a minion's stats. Yet MLWM is a quintessential "story now game". So how should we think about this?

That question is not rhetorical, and I'm curious about others' views. My starting point for an answer is that the game does not dictate what sort of outcome is desired. The player can decide what sort of ending their minion "deserves" and play towards that. So the skilful play is a means but not an end. Regardless of what happens, you will get to narrate an epilogue for your minion.

That said, I wonder how much "step on up"-drifted play of MLWM has taken place, where players struggle to be the one whose minion gets to kill the Master, or gets to have a normal life once the Master is dead. I can't believe there's been none.
 

Yora

Legend
I thought I was pretty good at reading English academic sociology publications, and know quite a bit about the underlying structures of RPGs.

But it turns out there's an Inside Baseball inside Inside Baseball.

(What is this about? o_O)
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
Earlier this year I finally picked up a (PDF) copy of My Life With Master (which had the added benefit of a very pleasant email exchange with Paul Czege, a designer whom I admire greatly).

I skimmed it when I got it, but have just now read it closely. I think it bears directly upon some of the themes of @Manbearcat's OP.

Players in MLWM play minions who serve a NPC Master - think, broadly, of a gothic horror setup. The action is driven by the relationships between various stats: Fear (the degree of terror the Master exercises over both the minions and the townsfolk), Reason (the tendency of normalcy to prevail despite the depredations of the Master and their minions), Self-Loathing (a minion's self-hatred that gives them power over the Townsfolk but also gives the Master power over them), Weariness (a minion's lack of will to resist or to try) and Love (a minion's degree of human connection to one or more ordinary people).

Dice pools to resolve conflicts are built out of these stats (eg test F+SL vs L-W to see if a minion obeys a command from their Master). And certain relationships between the stats also trigger events (eg if W > R, then a minion is captured): most importantly, if a minion resists a command from their Master and L > F+W, then the endgame is triggered: the minion and their Master are locked in struggle, and the Master will die, but until that happens (which is a function of dice rolls), the other players get a series of scenes, in turn, in which we find out what is happening to their PCs as everything comes to its culmination.

Once the Master dies, each player narrates the epilogue for their minion, but in accordance with constraints established by the relationships of the various stats. For instance, if SL > W+R then the minion in question destroys themself; but if W > SL + R then the minion flees or wanders off, unable to bear to go on. Only if L+R > SL+W is the minion able to integrate themself into ordinary society.

In the rulebook (pp 38, 40), Czege comments directly on the interaction between the system elements I've described in the preceding two paragraphs:

The GM alternates, after each such roll [to see if the Master has been killed], between rounds of framing scenes without player input​
and rounds of framing scenes called for by the players. Presumably it could take a few cycles of this before the Master is dead, all the while the players are sorting out the final trait values that will inform their individual Epilogues, likely working with intent toward having certain desired outcomes available to their characters.​

Clearly there is scope for skilful play here, as different sorts of scenes, and different approaches to a GM-framed scene, provide opportunities for different sorts of conflicts, which in turn can yield different sorts of consequences for a minion's stats. Yet MLWM is a quintessential "story now game". So how should we think about this?

That question is not rhetorical, and I'm curious about others' views. My starting point for an answer is that the game does not dictate what sort of outcome is desired. The player can decide what sort of ending their minion "deserves" and play towards that. So the skilful play is a means but not an end. Regardless of what happens, you will get to narrate an epilogue for your minion.

That said, I wonder how much "step on up"-drifted play of MLWM has taken place, where players struggle to be the one whose minion gets to kill the Master, or gets to have a normal life once the Master is dead. I can't believe there's been none.
The last paragraph is telling to me, in that it is acknowledging that the structures of play in MLwM push against Story Now in that it includes incentives to play it differently. And, to tie into my previous post, this is because the system forcing pacing and endpoint requirements of play incentives play to address those elements of play directly. And that pushed against Story Now. The best, then, that can be said here is that the players constrained themselves into avoiding those elements and limited their play to advocating for character. But that doesn't address the system issues here.

MLwM is a seminal game, without doubt. I'm not prepared to lionize it as the epitome of Story Now because of that, however.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
Let ne expand a bit on my last. I think MLwM is a majority Story Now game. That it's mainly about this kind of play. I think it has structures that fight back, though, and those are the same structures I'm pointing out in the game with hard fixed endpoints. MLwM alleviates this somewhat with a strong framing/resolution structure that is still delivering dramatic moments for the PCs even during the finale. In this using the fixed end as more open ended in pacing (it's more random) and also using it to allow PCs to confront to be tested throughout, it does a better job of having space for Story Now play than the example space station or end of the world scenarios. This is absolutely a nuance, but one I find to be worth noting because it can alternatively produce different play agendas without further disruption of the system.
 
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pemerton

Legend
Quoting Ron Edwards:

Step On Up is actually quite similar, in social and interactive terms, to Story Now. Gamist and Narrativist play often share the following things:
  • Common use of player Author Stance (Pawn or non-Pawn) to set up the arena for conflict. This isn't an issue of whether Author (or any) Stance is employed at all, but rather when and for what.
  • Fortune-in-the-middle during resolution, to whatever degree - the point is that Exploration as such can be deferred, rather than established at every point during play in a linear fashion.
  • More generally, Exploration overall is negotiated in a casual fashion through ongoing dialogue, using system for input (which may be constraining), rather than explicitly delivered by system per se.
  • Reward systems that reflect player choices (strategy, aesthetics, whatever) rather than on in-game character logic or on conformity to a pre-stated plan of play.
Which is a really long-winded way of saying that one or the other of the two modes has to be "the point," and they don't share well - but unlike either's relationship with Simulationist play (i.e., a potentially hostile one), Gamist and Narrativist play don't tug-of-war over "doing it right" - they simply avoid one another, like the same-end poles of two magnets. Note, I'm saying play, not players. The activity of play doesn't hybridize well between Gamism and Narrativism, but it does shift, sometimes quite easily.

Obviously, if the group is disinclined to do this, it can't happen. So in Gamist vs. Narrativist play, absent Simulationism, it may be a matter of "what we wanna do," and a very easy adjustment to system to reflect that in many cases, because how we "do" things is very similar already.

The key to the shift seems to be the reward system, not resolution - not about "how we decide what happens" so much as "how we decide that we're having fun." How a group plays Toon, for instance, depends wholly on whether Plot Points are used for scoring or whether they're employed as a multiple-author cartoon-story creation device. Similarly, the weak endgame of Once Upon a Time is resolved locally per group based on whether the group acceptance of the Ending card or the emptying of one's hand is the metric for ending the game.

If the reward system is less abstract and embedded deeply into the rest of the game, as with Sorcerer and Rune, shifting priorities becomes less easy. The Dying Earth provides a phenomenal example of Narrativist play using previously-Gamist methods, minimizing Drift with three things: non-spiraling game interactions (rock-paper-scissors), limiting returns (e.g. negative exponential improvement), and overwhelming rewards that promote an alternative metagame priority better suited to Narrativism.

The history of Tunnels & Trolls offers, I think, one of the most powerful examples of the phenomenon in the theory of game design ever, back around 1980. I cannot recommend reading and playing T&T highly enough to the student of Gamist and Narrativist play.​

In his later essay he reiterates that:

As I've tried to show at various points so far, Gamist and Narrativist play are near-absolute social and structural equivalents, sharing the same range for most Techniques save those involving reward systems. They differ primarily in terms of the actual aesthetic payoff - what's appreciated socially and aesthetically. That difference is extremely marked. Happily, therefore very little if any chance exists for these modes of play to come into conflict with one another - a group simply goes one way or the other.​

He goes on to consider a 2003 Marvel Universe RPG and concludes that

the key point for me is that the same game system is usable alternatively for Narrativist or Gamist (or Hard Core Gamist) play, rather than simultaneously. Also, the text includes very little mention of or attention to Simulationist play per se. Enjoying "being a Marvel hero" in this game is not Simulationist at all, but merely the foundational Explorative expectation for either of the two focused options.​

To tie this back to My Life With Master: does a group set out to compete over who gets to kill the Master? Or is the reward in engaging with the pathos of the minions' fates? I think Edwards is right to say (in the later essay) that "Whether the Gamist and Narrativist modes may be played "congruently" [ie simultaneously without conflict] is controversial . . . I remain skeptical." I share his scepticism. But if the whole table is into one way or the other, I don't see any problem.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
Quoting Ron Edwards:

Step On Up is actually quite similar, in social and interactive terms, to Story Now. Gamist and Narrativist play often share the following things:​
  • Common use of player Author Stance (Pawn or non-Pawn) to set up the arena for conflict. This isn't an issue of whether Author (or any) Stance is employed at all, but rather when and for what.
  • Fortune-in-the-middle during resolution, to whatever degree - the point is that Exploration as such can be deferred, rather than established at every point during play in a linear fashion.
  • More generally, Exploration overall is negotiated in a casual fashion through ongoing dialogue, using system for input (which may be constraining), rather than explicitly delivered by system per se.
  • Reward systems that reflect player choices (strategy, aesthetics, whatever) rather than on in-game character logic or on conformity to a pre-stated plan of play.
Which is a really long-winded way of saying that one or the other of the two modes has to be "the point," and they don't share well - but unlike either's relationship with Simulationist play (i.e., a potentially hostile one), Gamist and Narrativist play don't tug-of-war over "doing it right" - they simply avoid one another, like the same-end poles of two magnets. Note, I'm saying play, not players. The activity of play doesn't hybridize well between Gamism and Narrativism, but it does shift, sometimes quite easily.​
Obviously, if the group is disinclined to do this, it can't happen. So in Gamist vs. Narrativist play, absent Simulationism, it may be a matter of "what we wanna do," and a very easy adjustment to system to reflect that in many cases, because how we "do" things is very similar already.​
The key to the shift seems to be the reward system, not resolution - not about "how we decide what happens" so much as "how we decide that we're having fun." How a group plays Toon, for instance, depends wholly on whether Plot Points are used for scoring or whether they're employed as a multiple-author cartoon-story creation device. Similarly, the weak endgame of Once Upon a Time is resolved locally per group based on whether the group acceptance of the Ending card or the emptying of one's hand is the metric for ending the game.​
If the reward system is less abstract and embedded deeply into the rest of the game, as with Sorcerer and Rune, shifting priorities becomes less easy. The Dying Earth provides a phenomenal example of Narrativist play using previously-Gamist methods, minimizing Drift with three things: non-spiraling game interactions (rock-paper-scissors), limiting returns (e.g. negative exponential improvement), and overwhelming rewards that promote an alternative metagame priority better suited to Narrativism.​
The history of Tunnels & Trolls offers, I think, one of the most powerful examples of the phenomenon in the theory of game design ever, back around 1980. I cannot recommend reading and playing T&T highly enough to the student of Gamist and Narrativist play.​

In his later essay he reiterates that:

As I've tried to show at various points so far, Gamist and Narrativist play are near-absolute social and structural equivalents, sharing the same range for most Techniques save those involving reward systems. They differ primarily in terms of the actual aesthetic payoff - what's appreciated socially and aesthetically. That difference is extremely marked. Happily, therefore very little if any chance exists for these modes of play to come into conflict with one another - a group simply goes one way or the other.​

He goes on to consider a 2003 Marvel Universe RPG and concludes that

the key point for me is that the same game system is usable alternatively for Narrativist or Gamist (or Hard Core Gamist) play, rather than simultaneously. Also, the text includes very little mention of or attention to Simulationist play per se. Enjoying "being a Marvel hero" in this game is not Simulationist at all, but merely the foundational Explorative expectation for either of the two focused options.​

To tie this back to My Life With Master: does a group set out to compete over who gets to kill the Master? Or is the reward in engaging with the pathos of the minions' fates? I think Edwards is right to say (in the later essay) that "Whether the Gamist and Narrativist modes may be played "congruently" [ie simultaneously without conflict] is controversial . . . I remain skeptical." I share his scepticism. But if the whole table is into one way or the other, I don't see any problem.
This ties into what I'm arguing. I think some game structures absolutely favor Narrativism over Gamism and vice versa. If you look to consensus resolution, you cannot fully engage Narrativism because every resolution has concession to other than PC dramatic needs as a necessity. You can't avoid this.

With MLwM, the structures of play tilt mostly towards Narrativism, but the fixed endgame condition pushes back towards gamism because it provides a gameable endstate. If you postulate a game with an even more fixed endstate, this pressure becomes stronger.
 

Story Now requires that at least one engaging issue or problematic feature of human existence be addressed in the process of role-playing. "Address" means:

Establishing the issue's Explorative expressions in the game-world, "fixing" them into imaginary place.

Developing the issue as a source of continued conflict, perhaps changing any number of things about it, such as which side is being taken by a given character, or providing more depth to why the antagonistic side of the issue exists at all.

Resolving the issue through the decisions of the players of the protagonists, as well as various features and constraints of the circumstances.

Can it really be that easy? Yes, Narrativism is that easy.

And it all happens in Montsegur 1244. And it all happens in Fiasco. It really is that easy.

Attempting to smuggle in your own aesthetic preferences about 'consensus resolution' and then claiming those as definitional really isn't worth anything. It's adding nothing to the discussion.

It's certainly adding absolutely nothing with 'predictive or explanatory power'. It's just a backhand way of attempting to define your own preferences into something which was much more lucid and interesting without them.
 

My character was a small time crook on an Atlantic liner to New York who owed a lot of money to the mob.

I'd found an heiress on board who had a set of diamonds I could use to pay off my debt, but in the process of trying to find out where they were stashed and how I could get them, I'd become smitten with the heiress.

So I went to her stateroom during the evening hoping to see her. But she's there cavorting with another man, an aristocrat.

Do I shoot him for love of her? Do I kill them both? Do I threaten to kill him unless she opens the safe? And is she going to?

This all happened in my first game of Fiasco. And it was all Story Now play.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
And it all happens in Montsegur 1244. And it all happens in Fiasco. It really is that easy.
Necessary does not mean sufficient.
Attempting to smuggle in your own aesthetic preferences about 'consensus resolution' and then claiming those as definitional really isn't worth anything. It's adding nothing to the discussion.
Except that's not what's happening. I have no problems with consensus resolution. I'm not arguing this from a position of disliking consensus resolution. I'm pointing out that consensus resolution requires compromise and that means that a player cannot fully advocate for their character. That consensus resolution also strongly pushed towards choosing for better story rather than character dramatic needs. It's that simple. You cannot both push for your character's dramatic needs and compromise those for another players.
It's certainly adding absolutely nothing with 'predictive or explanatory power'. It's just a backhand way of attempting to define your own preferences into something which was much more lucid and interesting without them.
I'm not defining my preferences. I don't think games are good or bad because they enable a given kind of play. I'm not at all a purist for any kind of play. No effort on that here, you've badly mistaken where I'm coming from and chosen to attack my character rather than engage my arguments. If you pitched me Montsegur 1244 as Story Now and then explained consensus resolution and randomized prompt driven scene framing, I'd absolutely be thinking this isn't Story Now but I wouldn't dislike the game because of the mistake in categorization. That would be silly.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
My character was a small time crook on an Atlantic liner to New York who owed a lot of money to the mob.

I'd found an heiress on board who had a set of diamonds I could use to pay off my debt, but in the process of trying to find out where they were stashed and how I could get them, I'd become smitten with the heiress.

So I went to her stateroom during the evening hoping to see her. But she's there cavorting with another man, an aristocrat.

Do I shoot him for love of her? Do I kill them both? Do I threaten to kill him unless she opens the safe? And is she going to?

This all happened in my first game of Fiasco. And it was all Story Now play.
This is a story, not a play example. What scenes were framed how? What did resolution look like? There's nothing here that says it's Story Now. Knowing that system, there are challenges to that because scenes do not have to be framed to address character dramatic needs and don't have to be resolved that way, either.

So let's address Nordic Larp. This isn't Story Now agendas, but absolutely tries to center bleed, or emotionally connecting to the character. It can share a focus on drama, but the agenda is different. Often, Story Now cuts against Nordic Larp because honest advocation for PC dramatic needs is not something you might want to identify with.
 

I'm pointing out that consensus resolution requires compromise and that means that a player cannot fully advocate for their character. That consensus resolution also strongly pushed towards choosing for better story rather than character dramatic needs. It's that simple. You cannot both push for your character's dramatic needs and compromise those for another players.
And yet none of that prevents Story now, the prerequisites of which I quoted and which you continue to ignore. You are simply adding your own prerequisites and claiming them as true.

Again, do we have premise = yes. Are the players in control of their protagonism = yes. Does it address the premise = yes. Story Now.

I reject all your additional stipulations. I’ve quoted the requirements for Story Now, as written by Ron and provide examples which meet them. Now you cite me where all your additional stipulations are coming from.

As for my example, it used the rules for Fiasco. Which create Story. Now. You should know the rules, shouldn’t you?

You’re yet to provide a single example of play, or any evidence that Story Now play requires the elements you claim. And the reason is, it doesn’t.
 

pemerton

Legend
I don't see that consensus resolution need be the same as conch-passing or mere story-telling. It depends how it's structured.

Torchbearer contains elements of consensus resolution. One place is in the negotiation for compromises at the end of a conflict. It inherits this from BW's Duel of Wits, and I'm guessing also from Mouse Guard. (And in this respect it contrasts with In A Wicked Age, which has defaults (enduring debuffs, somewhat comparable to Torchbearer conditions) in the absence of consensus.) Another place is in the rules for using Traits, which depend upon group consensus that the Trait is applicable and that the player activating it is not "reaching".

My knowledge of Fiasco is limited to Wikipedia, which describes its framing and resolution like this:

for each player's turn, she or he may choose either to Establish or to Resolve.

Should the player choose to Establish, the content of the scene—people, place, conflict—is determined by the player. Doing this allows the player to set up the scene as they wish. However, the resolution of the scene or conflict is determined by the other players, who will choose a light die (a good resolution) or a dark die (a bad resolution) to give to the player in the middle of the scene. The player must accept the resolution, acting out or narrating events accordingly.

Alternatively, should the player choose to Resolve, the other players dictate the circumstances of the scene: the characters with whom the player's character will interact, where it happens, and what the conflict within the scene is. Choosing this option gives the player control of the resolution, unlike the Establish option. . . .

If there were mostly positive resolutions in Act One, there will, by necessity, be mostly negative resolutions in Act Two.​

Taken at face value, there is no Czege violation here, as no one both frames and resolves. And it looks like "drama" resolution (using Tweet and Edwards' fortune/karma/drama terminology), with a player's choice of resolution being (as I understand it) constrained by the available resolution dice.

Relating this back to @Manbearcat's OP: I think in this sort of resolution framework there is less scope for skilful play based on knowledge or manipulation of the mechanics. That doesn't necessarily stop "step on up" drift, however: based on that Wikipedia description Fiasco seems like it could be a site of low-level social competition, eg over influencing the framing of scenes and maybe even pushing for dice or gambling on a particular "tilt" outcome. @chaochou, have you ever encountered that style of "gamist" Fiasco? (Montsegur, simply in virtue of its thematic content, seems like it would be more resistant to any such drift. But that's mere intuition, not experience.)
 
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That doesn't necessarily stop "step on up" drift, however: based on that Wikipedia description Fiasco seems like it could be a site of low-level social competition, eg over influencing the framing of scenes and maybe even pushing for dice or gambling on a particular "tilt" outcome. @chaochou, have you ever encountered that style of "gamist" Fiasco?
No, I haven’t. Of course, players frame each other into difficult spots and flaky situations. And of course that makes for excellent, thematic gameplay.

But the idea you can reliably manipulate the dice is a non-starter. The idea that anyone is prevented from playing hard by the resolution framework is a rhetorical deceit using the word ‘consensus’ to obfuscate the complexity and subtlety of the actual system.

So even if you accept the claim that story now relies on particular resolution methods (and the original essays make clear that this is false), the application of the descriptor “consensus” to outcomes in Fiasco is close to worthless.
 
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Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
And yet none of that prevents Story now, the prerequisites of which I quoted and which you continue to ignore. You are simply adding your own prerequisites and claiming them as true.
I did. Necessary not sufficient ring a bell? There's more to it than the single bullet point from your last post. You lost more below, so you clearly understand there's more to it.
Again, do we have premise = yes. Are the players in control of their protagonism = yes. Does it address the premise = yes. Story Now.
No, you're compromising protagonism with consensus resolution.
I reject all your additional stipulations. I’ve quoted the requirements for Story Now, as written by Ron and provide examples which meet them. Now you cite me where all your additional stipulations are coming from.
What additional stipulations? This is becoming weird. I'm accused of inserting my preferences, and now of insisting on unstated additional stipulations that you cannot list or quote.
As for my example, it used the rules for Fiasco. Which create Story. Now. You should know the rules, shouldn’t you?
I do. Fiasco is not billed as Story Now, and you are the first and only b person I've seen make the argument. It's straight up billed as a storytelling game contains in its text exhortations to play to make a great story.

Here:
"WHAT IS FIASCO? FIASCO is a storytelling game inspired by cinematic tales of small-time capers gone disastrously wrong. You’ll tell a story about ordinary people with powerful ambition and poor impulse control. Lives and reputations will be lost, painful wisdom will be gained, and if you are really lucky, you just might end up back where you started. You probably won’t be lucky. The goal of this game is to tell a fun story about humanity and failure with your friends. Bad things will inevitably happen to the characters you control and the game will work best if you work together to find the most interesting ways to make that happen! To play, you’ll need the contents of this box, two to four friends, about two hours, and a really dark sense of humor."
You’re yet to provide a single example of play, or any evidence that Story Now play requires the elements you claim. And the reason is, it doesn’t.
This is asking me to provide play examples to prove that something isn't there. Very odd.

I did intentionally play a Fiasco set and a Rock Band where I played the cokehead guitarist and intentionally played to get a many black dice as possible to try to swing a "so bad it's good" outcome. Went to jail for a dime on distribution charges, get out, and successfully started a rehab/self actualization empire. Good enough?
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
No, I haven’t. Of course, players frame each other into difficult spots and flaky situations. And of course that makes for excellent, thematic gameplay.
It's a storytelling game that reliably produces its intended style of story. Make sense.
But the idea you can reliably manipulate the dice is a non-starter. The idea that anyone is prevented from playing hard by the resolution framework is a rhetorical deceit using the word ‘consensus’ to obfuscate the complexity and subtlety of the actual system.
Reliably? Maybe, but I've actually manipulated the dice collection. The only way to prevent this is if other players start counterplaying or if everyone just doesn't start. Fiasco is incredibly open to manipulation -- it invites it to a degree because the dice totals at the end can absolutely be manipulated by the table to be more likely to generate the preferred story ends.
So even if you accept the claim that story now relies on particular resolution methods (and the original essays make clear that this is false), the application of the descriptor “consensus” to outcomes in Fiasco is close to worthless.
That wasn't the claim. The claim is that some resolution methods do interfere, not that some specific kinds must be present. I think we can all agree that GM decides is not a resolution method that works with Story Now. So we agree some resolution method fail here. I'm arguing consensus resolution does a well.

Further, and @pemerton as well, the complaint about consensus resolution was aimed at Montsegur 1244. Fiasco was brought in as another storygame. There still is consensus occurring in Fiasco, but it's an emergent part of the fact that the game is about telling a story together.
 

It's a storytelling game that reliably produces its intended style of story. Make sense.

That wasn't the claim. The claim is that some resolution methods do interfere, not that some specific kinds must be present. I think we can all agree that GM decides is not a resolution method that works with Story Now. So we agree some resolution method fail here. I'm arguing consensus resolution does a well.

ROFL. Again, you're not arguing anything. You're asserting. From you're position as someone who only took Story Now at face value as a playstyle in, when was it... 2019? FIve years ago you'd have argued with equal certainty that everything you've just posted is nonsense.

So excuse me if I don't give any credibility to someone who wants to tell me what Fiasco is, or does, or be told what 'everyone says about it' when I was playing when it was published in 2009 and you were 10 years late to the party.
 

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