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

That wasn't the claim. The claim is that some resolution methods do interfere.
And this claim is contradicted by the original Narratavist essay. So you can take up with the author, but what you can't do is tell me what Story Now is when what you're actually discussing is your narrow-minded and insular redefinition.
 

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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.
It may ring a bell with you. But 'narrativism really is that easy' (see that little bit?) is the sentence which demonstrates your 'necessary not sufficient' is your own smuggled in falsehood. All that's required for Story Now is right there, in my quote, and is present in my play of Fiasco and Montsegur. And many other games I've been playing since 2001.

Your claims to what is required are directly contradicted by the essays on Story Now. Your claim about resolution are directly contradicted by the essay on Story Now.
 
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Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
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.
Ah, another ad hom. I made clear points. I'be explained, in detail, my reasoning. You've apoealed to authority, insulted me, and now are committing a generic galaxy on top of an ad hom. Which is funny because you've liked plenty of my posts where you agreed with me despite however recent my experience was.

My two core points remain:

1. Consensus resolution requires compromise with protagonism.

2. Forced end states put pressure on protagonism and pacing by introducing Gamist incentives.
 

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.

First, addressing the solicited anecdotes:

Dogs and MLwM were actually my initial forays into these games (later came Sorcerer and The Shadow of Yesterday). Both Dogs and MLwM have both plenty of scope for Skilled Play while simultaneously being games that center on visceral, provocative scenes where the thematic content the players are engaging with through their PCs demands a fairly high measure of (some alchemy of) fortitude/will + some level of engagement with a concoction of emotional commitment/retreat/revulsion (about the thematic touchstones, about the PC you're playing, about the milieu, and about the NPCs you're interacting with).

The two RL groups I've GMed these games for have featured a mix of people in terms of personal background and history with TTRPGs. I think a few interesting notes are:

* As scenes accrue, statistics change, and nature becomes revealed (in either game), its nearly impossible to not reorient to your PC.

* While there is absolutely a "Skilled Play Pressure" element to play, its inevitably entangled with the above emergent consequence of playing. You may have either, or, both rough thematic goals for a character or even gamestate goals for a character at the outset of play (or even healthily into it). But the pressure of those things intersecting with the scope of Skilled Play for these games gets perturbed as your orientation to your PC invariably changes. It may result in a realignment...possibly a significant one (you may find yourself playing someone you are very conficted about...or worse). That tension of scope of Skilled Play + clarified win/loss cons + confrontation with hardening/softening/reorienting scene content isn't an accident!

* Two of the players in the groups mentioned above have been regular Torchbearer and Blades in the Dark players in my RL group for those games. They are very inclined toward (and capable of) Skilled Play in all four of these games mentioned. However (and this is the last thing I'll say before I close out this post as I'm running out of time!), these "loss con" inputs in Blades and Torchbearer have had significant roles to play in their play (which incontrovertibly features a hefty dose of Skilled Play):

1) In Torchbearer, Nature 0 and Nature 7 means the character retires. The reality that players have complete say in both (a) how much they risk this prospect and (b) how it resolves within the fiction if it comes to that means that these two players are, by far, the most apt to push toward these loss cons for their characters. They've both retired multiple characters as a result of this while only a single other character has been retired from this within all the other players combined.

That is not a coincidence.

2) Those same two players? Those two players are the most prone to take on the significant burden of concession in Conflicts, up to and including seeing their characters removed from play. Again, they get so much say in this that I'm confident this is not a coincidence.

3) Cut to Blades. The exact same thing applies for Traumas, retirement (or worse) due to collecting 4 Traumas, and being sent to Ironhook Prison when Arrest comes up on Entanglement. Same deal. These two players are much more apt to (a) play within that red line where Traumas are lurking, (b) get Traumas, (c) retired due to Traumas, (d) take the fall for the The Crew when Arrest turns up.

Again...not a coincidence I don't believe.


My point to all of this?

I think "win cons" aren't the only pressure on or interaction with Skilled Play. In fact, that may not even be the most remarkable/interesting/impactful one.

It may very well be that the expression of agency (amount and kind) and the attendant trajectory on play that agency provides when it comes to "loss cons" is something that should be put under the microscope. Particularly when it comes to Skilled Play pressures within Story Now ("capable"...we can append that rider to TB for now) games and particularly for players who are much more inclined to engage with that "Skilled Play Throttle."
 

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)

Feel free to ask a specific question and I'll try to nail down a specific answer for you!

Anything come to mind about what you've read in this thread?

Anything in the lead post or subsequent posts that you find particularly interesting/compelling/confusing?
 

1. Consensus resolution requires compromise with protagonism.

2. Forced end states put pressure on protagonism and pacing by introducing Gamist incentives.

What do you think about your 1 and 2 here and what I've written above about "loss cons", agency around loss cons/play trajectory (particularly PC trajectory), and Skilled Play pressures/Gamist incentives?

Maybe, if you would, talk about Mister's actions in the scene in the bar early on in our Blades game (which...I think we can all agree...none of us saw coming), how Traumas and any other "Sword of Damocles-ish" aspects of system/shared imagined space impacted your orientation to play generally and specifically to the Gamist incentives in that game.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
What do you think about your 1 and 2 here and what I've written above about "loss cons", agency around loss cons/play trajectory (particularly PC trajectory), and Skilled Play pressures/Gamist incentives?

Maybe, if you would, talk about Mister's actions in the scene in the bar early on in our Blades game (which...I think we can all agree...none of us saw coming), how Traumas and any other "Sword of Damocles-ish" aspects of system/shared imagined space impacted your orientation to play generally and specifically to the Gamist incentives in that game.
I think consensus resolution is anathema to skilled play and I don't think fixed end have much to say about it.

I very much agree with your post above and the idea that Skilled Play can coexist with SN play. Bring aware of and leveraging system in pursuit of protagonism works fine. It's when the goal shifts from protagonism to a more Gamist goal that issues arise.

That scene for Mister involved trying to sneak a bomb into an enemy hideout to crack open the defense for an assault. This was successful -' Mister had infliltrated as a delivery worker and planted and primed the bomb. However, it turned out that there we
as an innocent in the hideout, being held there as hostage. This out pressure on Mister's background as an ex-guerilla in the Skovland resistance which he left in part because he no longer wished to be part of a losing fight that primarily killed innocents. So Mister made a choice, secured the hostage and set of the bomb using himself as a shield for the hostage. This succeeded with complication, and the resist roll ended up stressing Mister out of the score and earning his first team's, reckless. Up until that point, Mister had been a more careful planner, but surviving the explosion changed him. Much later Mister picked up Cold a a trauma and wouldn't have even thought twice about leaving the hostage behind.

All through this play, I fronted Mister's protagonism, but also made sure that he had the right PC build tools to enable it and used resources and system to best portray his dramatic needs. We all did in that game. Aligning play to protagonism can be 100% skilled.
 

Regarding this most recent disposition change of the thread, I’m going to offer up something for folks interested in this segment of the discussion.

I had a fun and interesting conversation with some pals last night after running Stonetop for them.

I posed a hypothetical of a game about the world ending via asteroid/comet strike. It’s not about forestalling the apocalypse but rather it’s about how you spend your last days. Do you write a letter and speedily drive it across country to hand deliver to someone you secretly love or someone you need to make peace with? Do you plot and assassinate the murderer of a loved one? Do you plan and throw a massive party? Do you convince your loved ones to join you in ritual suicide and do the deed? Etc.

The game is about engaging with that premise, resolving it, and revealing these characters via scenes that accrue Despair, Meaning, and Connection. You create your opening character, you create a goal, your assign stats. Those stats and that goal are foundational to the resolution of your final scene. As you move through scenes toward the final scene of your character, these stats change as immediate fallout and upon reflection (Dogs in the Vineyard-ish).

The background of the apocalypse is constraining framing to generate and animate these characters; to provoke play. The antagonist here is not the impending apocalypse.The antagonist is “what will stop you, particularly internally (eg your Despair score exerting more influence than your Meaning and/or Connections score), from doing what you set out to do in the time you have.”

1) Is this a Story Now game because it fits all the parameters and confined and focused play space for premise/distillation of emergent theme/character is not anathema?

2) Is this not a Story Now game because the encoded constraints on premise disallow you from choose your antagonist as “The Impending Apocalypseand allowing play to flow from that antagonist/goal? Put another way, if you could choose your antagonist as The Impending Apocalypse > create a scientist PC whose goal is to forestall the apocalypse > your scenes and derivative stats and “final showdown” would be anchored to that goal, then the game only now becomes Story Now?
My answer of course is that it is definitely Story Now (I mean, provisionally given the outline of system and my assumptions of play process). Certainly a fixed outcome does not negate Story Now. The apocalypse happens to the WORLD, not the character. It is not, as you say, something you are in conflict with, it is just fiction which informs the tone and genre of the milieu. Story Now does NOT require Zero/Low Myth, and it doesn't require Zero/Low 'meta-plot', it just requires that the players are in control of thematic choices. Certainly if we look to the essay linked in the OP we find THEME and PREMISE as very central factors.

Anyway, a lot of people do like/prefer Low Myth and a lot of payer autonomy, and perhaps a good bit of 'open endedness' in the fiction, but really things can be pretty nailed down and still be Story Now, as long as the player can say "my character is like this, and it affects his actions like so, and changes him like this" (and then maybe that doesn't happen as stated because of fortune, and now we have 'Play to Find Out What Happens'). I think there's always a need for some of Play to Find Out in any Story Now, and that too is clear to RE.
 

Bob is a man. Bob is tall. Therefore men, the kind, have the capacity to be tall. That is also specific to general, and as it happens is sound.

It's not indefeasible - maybe Bob is tall despite being of the kind men (eg something happened early in life that stretched Bob). That's why generalisation needs to rest on close attention to possible defeaters. (And not just in the social sciences - this is also an issue in natural science experimental design.)

No one is asserting that every game with a fixed timeline is, or must be, "story now". Even if the fixed timeline is known to the players, and so is not GM-parcelled-out "metaplot", that does not mean that the game is, or must be, "story now". But it might be. There is no contradiction between player protagonism, and no "the story", and a known pre-established cut-off for the action, any more than "story now" must mean there are no impassable mountain ranges, nor fixed cosmologies, etc.
Reasoning from particular to general is not unsound, as you say. It is merely INDUCTIVE REASONING taken to the weakest limit (IE if I once see the sun rise in the east I may generalize that to "the sun rises in the east", and from a purely evidentiary point of view that as weak as an assertion can get). I could cast this in Bayesian terms too, I have one prior, that's enough to generate a probability density against. Thus a betting man would logically want to put his money on "the sun will rise in the east again tomorrow" as there's no instance of a counterfactual. Obviously if the sun rises in the north tomorrow, well then I will need to carefully consider any further predictions, but I still have 'rose in the east' and 'rose in the north' as priors...

And yeah, maybe you set your Car Wars campaign in the "Last Days", its still about building weapon studded cars and doing crazy stuff with them, blowing up the other PCs cars, etc. Its surely not story now, but you can still have everyone die 'next Saturday' and it works as a game.
 

It’s no surprise that you see MLwM in that proposed game!

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.

And those differences are rather important to the question (and cut to
The heart of premise constraint/focus at the design level vs actual Force; which is a during play phenomenon).
Yeah, I think this is now a game where key story elements are restricted to the GM and player inputs don't matter to the plot anymore (at least much, they will probably still change some details). Is that not Story Now? Hmmmm, well, there isn't 'Play to Find Out' anymore. OTOH there are games that are fairly deterministic (IE Pace, which is diceless) that DO have some Story Now character in most play. So, I think the problem with this scenario isn't that the GM is essentially dictating that the day gets saved, that in and of itself is not different from 'the Earth will be inevitably destroyed'. Its the FORCE, the PCs are going to save the Earth! Now, if that's not the cae, if its up in the air, and resolving some dramatic premise about the characters or their relation to the situation, etc. is going to decide how that plays out, well then we're back to no force and Playing to Find Out What Happens, right? I think PtFOWH is a pretty strong concept!
 

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.
I would suggest a perusal of the history of science, my friend. Extrapolation is very seldom 'blind', it is almost entirely a matter of taking an observation and interpreting it in an existing context. This is basically how most of science has always worked. Newton say an apple fall, and then IN LIGHT OF ALL HIS OTHER EXPERIENCE, some of which was quite different from falling apples, was able to conceive of a general law covering ALL motion, both terrestrial and celestial. Obviously this wasn't instantly apparent to everyone who heard the idea, but if you read Principia Mathematica its pretty hard to fail to appreciate that it really works!

My point is, in light of the present discussion, it seems perfectly OK to take an example, and given our collective understanding of RPGs and etc. to draw some conclusions. We may well want to test them further, they are hypotheses, not settled law. But at some point we either have to play out entire campaigns and debate each point again and again in light of 1000 examples of play, or else draw some conclusions with the understanding that there may be further exceptions, detail, etc. inherent in the whole corpus of play.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
My answer of course is that it is definitely Story Now (I mean, provisionally given the outline of system and my assumptions of play process). Certainly a fixed outcome does not negate Story Now. The apocalypse happens to the WORLD, not the character. It is not, as you say, something you are in conflict with, it is just fiction which informs the tone and genre of the milieu. Story Now does NOT require Zero/Low Myth, and it doesn't require Zero/Low 'meta-plot', it just requires that the players are in control of thematic choices. Certainly if we look to the essay linked in the OP we find THEME and PREMISE as very central factors.

Anyway, a lot of people do like/prefer Low Myth and a lot of payer autonomy, and perhaps a good bit of 'open endedness' in the fiction, but really things can be pretty nailed down and still be Story Now, as long as the player can say "my character is like this, and it affects his actions like so, and changes him like this" (and then maybe that doesn't happen as stated because of fortune, and now we have 'Play to Find Out What Happens'). I think there's always a need for some of Play to Find Out in any Story Now, and that too is clear to RE.
D&D's total PC autonomy passes this test!
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
I would suggest a perusal of the history of science, my friend. Extrapolation is very seldom 'blind', it is almost entirely a matter of taking an observation and interpreting it in an existing context. This is basically how most of science has always worked. Newton say an apple fall, and then IN LIGHT OF ALL HIS OTHER EXPERIENCE, some of which was quite different from falling apples, was able to conceive of a general law covering ALL motion, both terrestrial and celestial. Obviously this wasn't instantly apparent to everyone who heard the idea, but if you read Principia Mathematica its pretty hard to fail to appreciate that it really works!

My point is, in light of the present discussion, it seems perfectly OK to take an example, and given our collective understanding of RPGs and etc. to draw some conclusions. We may well want to test them further, they are hypotheses, not settled law. But at some point we either have to play out entire campaigns and debate each point again and again in light of 1000 examples of play, or else draw some conclusions with the understanding that there may be further exceptions, detail, etc. inherent in the whole corpus of play.
This again? No one in science takes a single observation and extrapolated anything but a theory to test against future observations. Only after suffice testing shows usefulness in prediction is the theory useful.
 

pemerton

Legend
There are very extensive, important, sometimes profound, theoretical debates about what caused the First World War. None of them is tested by predicting when future wars will take place.

Is Edwards' view that The Dying Earth is a RPG best-suited to "story now" play a prediction about how people will play it? How people will have the most fun playing it? Or is it an interpretation, based on making sense of many features of the game including how it is presented, how its mechanics appear to work, the advice to GMs on framing and consequence-narration, and the role of "taglines" in PC improvement? I think the latter.

And for what it's worth I think his interpretation is correct, even though the game doesn't fit his formal definition of "story now" play: The Dying Earth RPG isn't aimed at resolving the sort of premise described in the official definition of "narrativism", but is aimed at producing cynical humour in the course of play, which is reinforced by the players' participation (via their PCs) either as perpetrators of the joke, or victims of it. (Or both.)
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
There are very extensive, important, sometimes profound, theoretical debates about what caused the First World War. None of them is tested by predicting when future wars will take place.

Is Edwards' view that The Dying Earth is a RPG best-suited to "story now" play a prediction about how people will play it? How people will have the most fun playing it? Or is it an interpretation, based on making sense of many features of the game including how it is presented, how its mechanics appear to work, the advice to GMs on framing and consequence-narration, and the role of "taglines" in PC improvement? I think the latter.

And for what it's worth I think his interpretation is correct, even though the game doesn't fit his formal definition of "story now" play: The Dying Earth RPG isn't aimed at resolving the sort of premise described in the official definition of "narrativism", but is aimed at producing cynical humour in the course of play, which is reinforced by the players' participation (via their PCs) either as perpetrators of the joke, or victims of it. (Or both.)
None of this is in isolation. We don't look at a single piece of the potential puzzle for WWI in isolation without other theories based on other observations. We have a general idea of how politics works that offers predictive power and we fit observations about WWI into that pattern and make assumptions. We then look to see if there are any other contemporary sources that can corroborate.

This idiotic argument started with the assertion that without attached anecdotes you cannot discuss play. I reject that, and I reject the continued argument that true to erect goal pays in a different place to defend it.

Further, it would be rather polite if you would actually address your posts to the person you are responding to rather than continue this pattern of sub-posting. I would appreciate the courtesy.
 

Ovinomancer

No flips for you!
There are very extensive, important, sometimes profound, theoretical debates about what caused the First World War. None of them is tested by predicting when future wars will take place.

Is Edwards' view that The Dying Earth is a RPG best-suited to "story now" play a prediction about how people will play it? How people will have the most fun playing it? Or is it an interpretation, based on making sense of many features of the game including how it is presented, how its mechanics appear to work, the advice to GMs on framing and consequence-narration, and the role of "taglines" in PC improvement? I think the latter.

And for what it's worth I think his interpretation is correct, even though the game doesn't fit his formal definition of "story now" play: The Dying Earth RPG isn't aimed at resolving the sort of premise described in the official definition of "narrativism", but is aimed at producing cynical humour in the course of play, which is reinforced by the players' participation (via their PCs) either as perpetrators of the joke, or victims of it. (Or both.)
I have no idea what The Dying Earth is, and cannot respond to those points.
 

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.
I don't get what incentives you are speaking of. All @pemerton stated was that he felt it was likely that some people had attempted to play the game while holding a different agenda, in this case a Gamist one in GNS-speak. While I'm not super up on MLWM, Pemerton's description jibes with what I remember. Its basically a story arc, you play a certain sort of character (minion to an evil master) and do genre-appropriate things. Each player kind of just decides for themselves what sort of story they would like to get out of the play of their minion, that is what epilogue they wish. I guess you might also aspire to save your love and kill master perhaps as independent personal goals, though these things have definite impact on your attributes, and thus ultimate fate too (I don't recall all the details of the various effects and whatnot). In the end Master dies, and maybe you get the ending you wanted, or maybe not, depending on luck and how the various players wangle their calls for certain scenes. Really there isn't any strong reason for the PCs not to work together and plot out how to all save themselves, which seems like one of the more likely sorts of directions things can go, but as a Minion, you also have to contend with what Master wants, and how that plays out! So, things can go topside down, etc. Overall my impression of the game is you're all creating the story of the downfall of a great villain, from the perspective of the little guys, and acting it out in the process.
 



Players can have as much freedom and agency as the GM gives them.
The issue is that for the last 30+ years, published D&D material is teaching GMs to give them little to none.

I want to say a few things on this:

1) I very much agree that a significant cross-section of D&D materials from the last 35 years inform a culture of play whereby GMs have felt purposed with wresting control of the trajectory of play from the players to ensure either story prerogatives (GM's own story or the metaplot of the module/AP) or story imperatives (power fantasy and setting tourism for players primarily).

2) However, I don't believe that freedom (lack of premise constraint for instance) and agency are inextricably linked. For instance, map-and-key D&D dungeon crawling can have maximal agency within the premise of the play...while simultaneously constraining the play space and the decision-space for the players (impinging on certain notions of "freedom").


This actually gets into a fair chunk of varying conversations/positions taken in this thread whether it be Story Now design and play or Skilled Play design and play.

In the lead post, I'm thinking aloud about the 5 different defendable statements. Lets take a look at one of them:

There is a IIEE + OODA relationship that foregrounds and orients content that impedes Story Now play.

Let me throw out an example of this that intersects with agency:

* GM frames a situation/obstacle which opposes player goals.

* Player processes this information, navigates their decision-point, declares an action, and attempts to use the system's resolution mechanics to resolve the obstacle, thus furthering their goal.

* The subsequent gamestate and/or fiction that results from this loop makes no sense to the player. Maybe the consequences/stakes didn't follow from either/any/all of the the player's orienting themselves to the GM's framing or the player's understanding of their resources potential to impact the situation or the player's understanding of how the resolution mechanics should be employed to resolve this situation.

* Now let us say, for certain, that the problem is neither system nor player. The GM screwed up their end of the bargain. They didn't communicate well/appropriately the dynamics of the situation or they didn't apply system correctly.


So this becomes an agency problem which impedes Story Now play precisely because Story Now play is utterly contingent upon players consistently having maximal agency to control the gamestate (here that means that the IIEE + OODA relationship is correctly applied + the resolution mechanics are correctly deployed + the situation and its resolution foregrounds and orients content in a way that engages with the premise of play) and propel play trajectory...but this is all within the confines of the system/game we're engaged with.

That last bit is the "freedom" piece. If we're playing Dogs in the Vineyard, its an axiom of play that The King of Life and sorcery/demons are real things at the metagame level. So while you might play a gun-toting paladin who is having a crisis of faith (and we get to find out how that crisis resolves...perhaps it resolves with a complete loss of faith and this paladin either abandons his service or carries on his duty but with a heavy burden of loss of belief), you don't get to play a paladin that fundamentally disproves the existence of The King of Life or that every exorcism ever performed on the frontier was just hocus pocus and snake oil. The game is not about this. There are boundaries and constraints upon the premise of play.

Hopefully that all makes sense?
 
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