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D&D General DM Authority

happyhermit

Adventurer
... players should see their characters pretty much in the same light as a GM sees NPCs. Y'know, as characters and not avatars of themselves.
IME, that is equivalent to saying most players should play their characters in a way that is less fulfilling and fun.

I don't claim to be any authority on the subject, that's why I think that players should see their characters in the way that works the best for them, within the system they are playing. "Author stance" or whatever it's being called these days is certainly not inherently superior.

Isn't collective storytelling, like, the main thing about RPGs?
Nope, the main thing about Roleplaying games is roleplaying. Collective storytelling is, like, the main thing about Collective Storytelling games. Who'd a thunk?
 

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IME, that is equivalent to saying most players should play their characters in a way that is less fulfilling and fun.

I don't claim to be any authority on the subject, that's why I think that players should see their characters in the way that works the best for them, within the system they are playing. "Author stance" or whatever it's being called these days is certainly not inherently superior.

The point is that generally having a player associate with their character too much leads to problems.

Bad things happening to the character is not bad things happening to the player.

Nope, the main thing about Roleplaying games is roleplaying. Collective storytelling is, like, the main thing about Collective Storytelling games. Who'd a thunk?

Wow, so much snark so little worthwhile content.

The point that I think you miss utterly, is that the term "Roleplaying" puts the person doing it in a very similar position as an Actor. They are playing a character, in a story, and deciding on what happens within that story.

Does Ronan the Subtle kill the helpless captives or show mercy? The DM can't tell you that, there is no author making that overarching decision, the player decides that. They are telling that story.

And Ronan's companion Kab is going to add to that story by reacting to the decisions of the captives and of Ronan.

And collectively the players and the DM are going to craft a story about what happened when Ronan and Kab were faced with this choice. Yes, this is very different than the Collective Storytelling of things like "the Quiet Year" or "Yes, Dark Lord" but it is still a style of collective storytelling.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
The point is that generally having a player associate with their character too much leads to problems.

Bad things happening to the character is not bad things happening to the player.

Is there any actual evidence that anyone has ever thought this? I mean people use language to loosely explain themselves where they say 'I' when referring to something their character did. That doesn't mean are too dumb to realize there is a difference between their character and themselves. It's loose language. So any actual evidence anyone thinks this?

Wow, so much snark so little worthwhile content.

The point that I think you miss utterly, is that the term "Roleplaying" puts the person doing it in a very similar position as an Actor. They are playing a character, in a story, and deciding on what happens within that story.

Does Ronan the Subtle kill the helpless captives or show mercy? The DM can't tell you that, there is no author making that overarching decision, the player decides that. They are telling that story.
IMO. Telling what you do in a story is not telling a story. Overcoming obstacles real time is not telling a story.

And Ronan's companion Kab is going to add to that story by reacting to the decisions of the captives and of Ronan.

And collectively the players and the DM are going to craft a story about what happened when Ronan and Kab were faced with this choice. Yes, this is very different than the Collective Storytelling of things like "the Quiet Year" or "Yes, Dark Lord" but it is still a style of collective storytelling.
IMO. Having shared fiction isn't the same thing as collectively crafting a story. The goal in an RPG is different. The players view of character advocacy in an RPG is different.
 
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Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
IMO. Telling what you do in a story is not telling a story. Overcoming obstacles real time is not telling a story.


IMO. Having shared fiction isn't the same thing as collectively crafting a story. The goal in an RPG is different. The players view of character advocacy in an RPG is different.
I don't have an issue with viewing the result of the game being viewed as a story. I mean..

"After defeating the goblin hordes in the Caves of Despair, Dumphwith the Bard stared at the baby goblin for some time before deciding to spare its life." - written by an author.

and

"After defeating the goblin hordes in the Caves of Despair, Dumphwith the Bard stared at the baby goblin for some time before deciding to spare its life." - after actions taken by both DM and player(s).

...are functionally the same. Both can be viewed as a story.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
I don't have an issue with viewing the result of the game being viewed as a story. I mean..

"After defeating the goblin hordes in the Caves of Despair, Dumphwith the Bard stared at the baby goblin for some time before deciding to spare its life." - written by an author.

and

"After defeating the goblin hordes in the Caves of Despair, Dumphwith the Bard stared at the baby goblin for some time before deciding to spare its life." - after actions taken by both DM and player(s).

...are functionally the same. Both can be viewed as a story.
IMO they are only functionally the same via one vantage point. From another perspective, One was made up by an author the other emerged from roleplaying in an rpg. That’s a pretty big difference IMO.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
IMO they are only functionally the same via one vantage point. From another perspective, One was made up by an author the other emerged from roleplaying in an rpg. That’s a pretty big difference IMO.
It's come up before (maybe in this very thread) but part of the problem here is that English doesn't really have good concise language to describe what happens in an RPG, where a story emerges from the processes of play. What happens is it gets described as "collective storytelling" but that implies more in the way of intentional authorship than at least seems to be the norm in games like D&D--it's plausible that in Fate, or Blades in the Dark, or any of the myriad PbtA games (and I'm sure people who are more into this playstyle than I am can name other games that are more story-oriented than these) the people at the table are more aware of/concerned with the story.

If you have a preference for current events in the game to be consistent with prior events in the game, that's arguably a preference connected to the story that's emerging from play.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
IMO they are only functionally the same via one vantage point. From another perspective, One was made up by an author the other emerged from roleplaying in an rpg. That’s a pretty big difference IMO.
Sure. One story was made up by an author and one story emerged from roleplaying an RPG. I agree. The method to get there is very different. The result can still be termed a story, though. The next day when I go tell Bob what happened at the game, I'm telling a story that I didn't author up, but was created via shared RP in a game. :)
 

loverdrive

Makin' cool stuff
Publisher
Is there any actual evidence that anyone has ever thought this? I mean people use language to loosely explain themselves where they say 'I' when referring to something their character did. That doesn't mean are too dumb to realize there is a difference between their character and themselves. It's loose language. So any actual evidence anyone thinks this?
Hm, masked murderers of like half of rpg horror stories are people who couldn't separate themselves from their characters and wanted to win the game.

And all of the issues of bad kind of metagaming, munchkinism and things like that just can't exist if the player sees their character as, well, character.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
Sure. One story was made up by an author and one story emerged from roleplaying an RPG. I agree. The method to get there is very different. The result can still be termed a story, though. The next day when I go tell Bob what happened at the game, I'm telling a story that I didn't author up, but was created via shared RP in a game. :)
One can tell bob a story about what happened in the superbowl as well. That doesn’t mean the Super Bowl was a story. I think you’ve got to be careful bringing up what you are doing the next day and calling that a story. Everything is a story in that perspective.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
One can tell bob a story about what happened in the superbowl as well. That doesn’t mean the Super Bowl was a story. I think you’ve got to be careful bringing up what you are doing the next day and calling that a story. Everything is a story in that perspective.
The difference is I'm repeating to Bob the story we created the prior day. RPGs are just a method of creating a story. It's just done via action declarations and semi-random(generally) resolution, rather than straight out decision.
 

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
The difference is I'm repeating to Bob the story we created the prior day. RPGs are just a method of creating a story. It's just done via action declarations and semi-random(generally) resolution, rather than straight out decision.
And yet There is a difference in creating a story and a story emerging. In D&D no one creates a story. Instead they play a game and the story emerges.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
And yet There is a difference in creating a story and a story emerging. In D&D no one creates a story. Instead they play a game and the story emerges.
Some people (I'm one) believe the story that emerges is the point of the game, and play (or DM) with that near the front of the priority list. Even so, I don't think the people around the table are creating the story in the same way an author (or, a closer comparison: a show's writer room) does. I think the people around the story are creating story elements--characters and situations, mostly--but I think the events in the story are ... a good deal less like authored fiction, which is almost certainly at the heart of why I don't think books or movies make good comparisons to TRPG play.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
And yet There is a difference in creating a story and a story emerging. In D&D no one creates a story. Instead they play a game and the story emerges.
It emerges through actions and declarations that create it, though. This is really a distinction without a difference.

Anyway, at least we're at an agreement that a story is happening. :)
 

Mannahnin

Explorer
I think Prabe has hit on a key distinction that it's a matter of emphasis and intent. When I play D&D I can make decisions with different priorities in mind, and generally a given player will have some balance of them. For example...

Keeping my character alive
Achieving our party's objective/quest
Gaining wealth, magical knowledge, or power
Pursuing individual character goals other than the above; like courting a spouse, or taking revenge, or protecting another character
Exploring the game world and learning more about it
Doing funny things
Making an interesting story

The way I am PRIMARILY accustomed to people playing is by focusing first on character advancement and RP goals, and seeking excitement through combat and other adventuring activities, with "what would make a dramatic story" relegated way down the list or not consciously considered. Though I have repeatedly observed that if the players know the campaign is coming to an end, this will shift and they'll often lose their normally-strong emphasis on survival, and start consciously focusing on drama, to help create a satisfying end to the emergent story of the campaign.

It seems clear to me that at least a couple of us in here put that "what would make the best story" higher on their personal list of play priorities. And that's perfectly cool.
 

Jack Daniel

Engines & Empires
I don't have an issue with viewing the result of the game being viewed as a story. I mean..

"After defeating the goblin hordes in the Caves of Despair, Dumphwith the Bard stared at the baby goblin for some time before deciding to spare its life." - written by an author.

and

"After defeating the goblin hordes in the Caves of Despair, Dumphwith the Bard stared at the baby goblin for some time before deciding to spare its life." - after actions taken by both DM and player(s).

...are functionally the same. Both can be viewed as a story.

They aren't functionally the same, though. In the former case, an author is creating a text (a semiotic object that conveys meaning), and more specifically a narrative text (i.e. a text set apart from non-narrative texts through the use of literary devices to connect a sequence of related events). Anything that can be read to discern meaning can be a text; and any kind of text can be marked as literary and therefore tell a story. Hence, a story can be a written tale, or an oral tale, or a silent movie with no words at all, or even a piece of music. ("For sale: baby shoes, never worn." —a very short story usually attributed to Earnest Hemmingway.)

Your latter case is only a story if it's an after-the-fact account of what happened during the game, in which case there's once again at least one author (whoever's telling the story) creating a text. The actual fact of gameplay is not the creation of a text, it's just a sequence of events happening in a fictional world. That's no different from a sequence of events happening in the real world, which aren't (and can't be) a story until someone chronicles them as history or journalism or biography or whatever.
 

prabe

Aspiring Lurker (He/Him)
Supporter
They aren't functionally the same, though. In the former case, an author is creating a text (a semiotic object that conveys meaning), and more specifically a narrative text (i.e. a text set apart from non-narrative texts through the use of literary devices to connect a sequence of related events). Anything that can be read to discern meaning can be a text; and any kind of text can be marked as literary and therefore tell a story. Hence, a story can be a written tale, or an oral tale, or a silent movie with no words at all, or even a piece of music. ("For sale: baby shoes, never worn." —a very short story usually attributed to Earnest Hemmingway.)

Your latter case is only a story if it's an after-the-fact account of what happened during the game, in which case there's once again at least one author (whoever's telling the story) creating a text. The actual fact of gameplay is not the creation of a text, it's just a sequence of events happening in a fictional world. That's no different from a sequence of events happening in the real world, which aren't (and can't be) a story until someone chronicles them as history or journalism or biography or whatever.
So, first, I don't think I disagree with your larger point, that, e.g., a novel is different than a recounting of the events of a TRPG campaign (my wife takes and types up the notes that land in the campaign Story Hour threads I post here--and she's also a hobby-level novelist; neither of us is under the delusion that her notes are equivalent to a novel.

That said ... I think the difference is subtler (I guess) than I read you to be saying. The novelist makes up the sequence of events, and narrates them; the TRPG table makes up (or generates) the sequence of events, and one of them types them up after-the-fact. The big differences I see are 1) in the process, the novelist typically makes up the events as they're doing the writing, whereas the gamers are generating the sequence of events, then writing them up later (making that more like, as you say, journalism or history--but there are novelists who work from outlines, which is closer to what's happening with gamer notes than the work of a novelist who free-writes); and 2) in the novel at least, there's more singularity of authorship than there is at (most? many?) TRPG tables, which plausibly makes it easier to control what happens in a novel--so things like theme and subtext are easier to manipulate/choose. (I think there was going to be at least a third difference, but it's fallen out of my head.)
 

Mannahnin

Explorer
Yup. In writing a story we normally do focus on things like theme and subtext. We consciously try to create compelling character arcs, where there's a satisfying and meaningful progression from where a character starts out, go through events showing how their personality develops, and where they end up.

In telling a story about a real series of events (say,a football game, as mentioned before), such themes only exist to the extent that we perceive them in the happenstance events and rationalize the telling to emphasize the meaningful parts and impose meaning after the fact.

IME the division we seem to be talking about between "Traditional" RPGs like D&D as it is described in the books, and "Storygames" is that the TradRPG treats the exercise of playing the game more like a game, and Storygames treat it a bit more like writing a story.
 
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Lanefan

Victoria Rules
The point is that generally having a player associate with their character too much leads to problems.

Bad things happening to the character is not bad things happening to the player.
Completely agree.
The point that I think you miss utterly, is that the term "Roleplaying" puts the person doing it in a very similar position as an Actor. They are playing a character, in a story, and deciding on what happens within that story.

Does Ronan the Subtle kill the helpless captives or show mercy? The DM can't tell you that, there is no author making that overarching decision, the player decides that. They are telling that story.

And Ronan's companion Kab is going to add to that story by reacting to the decisions of the captives and of Ronan.
OK up to here, sort of.
And collectively the players and the DM are going to craft a story about what happened when Ronan and Kab were faced with this choice. Yes, this is very different than the Collective Storytelling of things like "the Quiet Year" or "Yes, Dark Lord" but it is still a style of collective storytelling.
Quibble: it's collective story-creating, for sure, but not collective story-telling.

Why do I say this? It's a matter of intent.

With collective story-telling, as I see the term, the specific intent going in is to tell a story which fairly clearly appears in the moment as you go along. The story is the goal of play.

With collective story-creating, the specific intent going in is just to do stuff in character and see what develops; and the created story doesn't really appear until looked at in hindsight. The story is a side-effect of play.

It's a nit-picky difference on paper but a rather huge one at the table.

EDIT: and reading on I see @Mannahnin says almost exactly the same thing just upthread. :)
 
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Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Is there any actual evidence that anyone has ever thought this? I mean people use language to loosely explain themselves where they say 'I' when referring to something their character did. That doesn't mean are too dumb to realize there is a difference between their character and themselves. It's loose language. So any actual evidence anyone thinks this?
I've had a few players like this, where a bad thing happening to the character was taken (and internalized) as a bad thing happening to the player.

Note that I specifically say "had" there, as those players have long since been pruned from the table. :)
 

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