Is RPGing a *literary* endeavour?

Bedrockgames

Adventurer
Maybe, but those posts with lots of words that you say you don't read are often the ones that best explain the position. It seems cobunter productive to complain about not understanding a position, while not reading the posts best able to help you learn what the position is.
First, like I said I am just fielding replies to my response to the OP. If people want me to understand their replies they should be able to convey their position clearly in a single post rather than demand I read the entire thread (or sift through a whole thread looking for a gem the6 wrote two days ago).

Second, if you can’t clearly express your idea in a single reply, maybe there is an issue with your style of communication and not with my lack of desire to read a whole thread?

Third, reading a whole thread is time consuming. I am fine getting the gist of a thread or responding to an OP and fielding replies to my response, but I view it as a very serious waste of time to go hunting for posts in a thread or to read one from start to finish. This has nothing to do with my ability to read ‘lots of words’, and everything to do with valuing my time. I am happy to read lots of words. I am not interested in reading lots of words by random posters on the internet.
 

Bedrockgames

Adventurer
It happens. For truth!

Just the other day I was jumped in a dark alley by a playstyle and told that if I didn't use its talking points, I would sleep with the dragon turtles.
I didn’t express the concept well, but there is clearly a play style debate under slaying this discussion.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
If you are defining presentation as anything that isn't content, well, that is so broad, anything in the category has to be important (but it is also pretty useless to have such a broad category).
Categories are what they are, broad or not. Content is very different than presentation, but the only way to get content across to someone else is to present it to them somehow. That makes it useful to know that presentation is the other category. If presentation is so broad that you are having difficulty with it when it comes to presenting an idea to us, rather than complain about how broad presentation is, there are these things called sub-categories that you can use to help you out. Simply identify the type of presentation you are talking about and then continue on.

But honestly I feel like you are paying lip service to this, while using the distinction to advance a clear playstyle argument (and it is pretty obvious Pemerton is picking up on the same thing). Neither of us have particularly objected to presentation as a thing that matters. We've objected to the way you've focused on the performative aspects of it. Underlying this whole discussion is a divide over whether the players and GM are there performing for one another or if they are there interacting and conversing with one another. I do not see the game as a performance.
The game isn't performance. It's also not content, communication, literary or anything else. It's all of the above, depending on what aspect you are talking about. Trying to label an RPG as one thing is an exercise in futility, and will result in push-back by people who realize that RPGs are comprised of many different things. People will also tend to push back hardest about their favorite aspect of the game. This is not "advancing an agenda." Rather, it's just human nature.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I didn’t express the concept well, but there is clearly a play style debate under slaying this discussion.
That was just a joke.

What I said in my last post is not, though. I don't think there is any sort of agenda going on here. People just disagree with blanket statement X, and when people disagree, they tend to do so from their favorite aspect of the game that disputes the overgeneralized term being used. That doesn't make it an agenda, though.
 

lowkey13

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
I didn’t express the concept well, but there is clearly a play style debate under slaying this discussion.
As one comedian to another, this joke killed!

:)

(I know, it's a typo, but maybe your Freudian slip is showing!)
 

lowkey13

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
You seem to be projecting.
My momma taught me three things-

"Better to shut yer mouth and have 'em think yer ignorant than remove all doubt by openin' that pie hole."

"No matter how bad you feel on the inside, boy, you smile so girls like you and invite you to parties."

"Get momma her whisky and cigs."

Pretty sure one of those applies here. Anyway, I was going to remind you that you never dealt with, inter alia, humorous TTRPGs, but ... well ... I don't think I could take that (as E. B. White would tell you).

But these comments have made me think about how different DMs and players use presentation in their games, so a new thread with actual helpful tips would definitely be useful :)
 

pemerton

Legend
the GM may well also be invested and excited about the ancestry information as well, and that will come through. But it isn't a performance or even a presentation. It is a sincere and honest human expression in a conversation. There is a difference.
I agree with all this.

I'd probably talk about growing up underground, reference my appearance by mentioning the beard and spend some time grooming it. I'd probably reference relations between my people and various other people as being different than everyone else's. My food choices would be different. References to my stature might go some ways. The fact that I don't like boats or horses might be a bit cliche, but, it does get the point across. Historical facts about my people in comparison to the rest of the party. Differences in approaches - the fact that I live about twice or three times as long as a human would give me a pretty different perspective on things. The fact that I see in the dark and have resistance to poisons would likely come up at some point.
Darkvision and poison resistance seem like elements in action declaration and action resolution rather than performance/presentation, so I'll put them to one side.

In most FRPGing, grooming one's beard, choosing one's food, not liking boat,s is all just colour. If my familiarity with the underground, or the distinctive histories or politics of my people, actually matter in play then that will come out in action declaration - as it does, for instance, for the dwarf in my 4e game.

Or to take another example: in the most recent RPG session I GMed - a Cthulhu Dark session - one of the PCs had two descriptors: head butler, and proper English gentelman. We didn't need the player to present or perform these descriptors in order to appreciate them - they were manifest from beginning to end in the play of the character: his concerns and motivations, his actions and responses.

Conversely, if the only way that I can tell your character is a butler is because you make references to the sivlerware that have no bearing on the actual play of the game; or if the only way I can tell you're a dwarf is because of your repeated references to your beard that never actually matters to any actions that your character undertakes; then I wonder what the point of the descriptor is at all. How is it actually informing the role you are playing in the game?
 

Bedrockgames

Adventurer
Categories are what they are, broad or not. Content is very different than presentation, but the only way to get content across to someone else is to present it to them somehow. That makes it useful to know that presentation is the other category. If presentation is so broad that you are having difficulty with it when it comes to presenting an idea to us, rather than complain about how broad presentation is, there are these things called sub-categories that you can use to help you out. Simply identify the type of presentation you are talking about and then continue on.
I am not seeing how this ads value to play. I absolutely do not need to understand this distinction in order to run or play in a game. And I am not sure the distinction is the best way to categorize key elements of the hobby. I mean I could also divide the game into "rolling dice parts" and "not rolling dice parts". If any of the material being filed under 'presentation' comes up or matters during play, it is done intuitively anyways (and I am not sure things being filed under presentation really reflect the nature of what is going on well). And actively thinking about this distinction during play feels like it would just take me out of the moment. Again what you are offering really is a model, and I think it is a flawed, unproven model. All that is being done here is people are asserting the hobby can be broken up into two broad categories and then giving some vague reasons why that is. I find this a very unpersuasive argument for me to adopt the proposed model. Admittedly my bar is pretty high for accepting a model. For me to accept a model as useful, I need to experience its utility in play repeatedly to the extent that it visibly adds to the experience of play. I am doubtful this content/presentation distinction adds anything at all.
 

Bedrockgames

Adventurer
The game isn't performance. It's also not content, communication, literary or anything else. It's all of the above, depending on what aspect you are talking about. Trying to label an RPG as one thing is an exercise in futility, and will result in push-back by people who realize that RPGs are comprised of many different things. People will also tend to push back hardest about their favorite aspect of the game. This is not "advancing an agenda." Rather, it's just human nature.
I am not going to accept it is 'all of the above' simply because you assert that it is. But I do think there are numerous approaches to play and numerous play styles. However I have no interest in getting other people to adopt mine through argumentation. Posters here were doing that and they were drawing on the proposed model in order to advocate for a way of playing the game. I am not saying they are doing it with nefarious intent. But it is definitely something happening in the discussion and that the model is contributing to. But not everyone participating is entering the realm of plakystyle advocacy. I don't think pushing a playstyle is human nature. Also, pushing back against someone who trashes your preferred style is a totally different thing than telling people they should adopt your preferred style (or trying to argue that your preferred style is superior).
 

Satyrn

Villager
I shall edit out the direct reference to your earlier comment as an apology, then. I do not want to use my humour as a weapon.
 

Bedrockgames

Adventurer
I shall edit out the direct reference to your earlier comment as an apology, then. I do not want to use my humour as a weapon.
Don't edit it. Leave it. I am just pointing out people in these threads are often quite rude. I definitely can post snarky remarks from time to time. But the amount of ridicule lobbed my way in the past three pages is pretty off-putting. If you disagree with me, that is totally fine. We can have disagreements about this stuff. But do you need to mock me like I am some kind of Alex Jones theorists because I think people are pushing for play styles in the thread? And do you need to mock my ability to read because I don't want to spend hours pouring over an entire thread?
 

uzirath

Explorer
In most FRPGing, grooming one's beard, choosing one's food, not liking boats is all just colour.
I am mostly on board with the argument you've presented in this increasingly labyrinthine thread. But there's something here that feels off to me. When I guide new players, I often encourage them to consider minor elements about their characters that will be fun and memorable at the table. In other words, colour (or color, on my side of the pond). These tidbits often generate great interplay between the characters, despite the fact that they may have no impact on the stakes of the story (at first anyway, see below for more on this). "Don't make fun of Grunk's beard!" "Elspeth will eat anything!" Some games have minor mechanics for this sort of thing, like the concept of quirks in GURPS, but I rarely see anybody invoking the mechanics for serious in-game effects. It's all just background colour to breathe life into the fiction.

Conversely, if the only way that I can tell your character is a butler is because you make references to the silverware that have no bearing on the actual play of the game; or if the only way I can tell you're a dwarf is because of your repeated references to your beard that never actually matters to any actions that your character undertakes; then I wonder what the point of the descriptor is at all. How is it actually informing the role you are playing in the game?
There is a fluidity between how these details may impact the "actual play of the game." Maybe when I create my dwarf, I don't imagine the beard thing will be significant. I haven't written anything about it on my character sheet. But the beard jokes gain traction at the table and I start thinking more about the cultural significance of my beard, describing the intricate braids and beads that represent various elements of my character's background. Eventually, a good GM picks up on this and may develop hooks and connections. Maybe we meet another dwarf whose "beard writing" reveals something about them. Or we end up in a scenario where my beard is threatened (or I need to be in a clean-shaven disguise). I never consciously declared to the GM that these things are central features of my character, but over time these story elements can grow and become more significant. This sort of promotion and demotion of roleplaying elements seems to be a significant component of most games that I've played, regardless of the system.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I am not seeing how this ads value to play. I absolutely do not need to understand this distinction in order to run or play in a game.
No, but you do need to understand it to have a relevant conversation about the topic on a forum.

And actively thinking about this distinction during play feels like it would just take me out of the moment. Again what you are offering really is a model, and I think it is a flawed, unproven model. All that is being done here is people are asserting the hobby can be broken up into two broad categories and then giving some vague reasons why that is. I find this a very unpersuasive argument for me to adopt the proposed model. Admittedly my bar is pretty high for accepting a model. For me to accept a model as useful, I need to experience its utility in play repeatedly to the extent that it visibly adds to the experience of play. I am doubtful this content/presentation distinction adds anything at all.
It isn't about thinking about these things during game play. It's about understanding the various points of people discussing the topic in this thread. You're taking something and trying to apply it in a way other than what is intended, and then calling it flawed.

I am not going to accept it is 'all of the above' simply because you assert that it is. But I do think there are numerous approaches to play and numerous play styles. However I have no interest in getting other people to adopt mine through argumentation. Posters here were doing that and they were drawing on the proposed model in order to advocate for a way of playing the game. I am not saying they are doing it with nefarious intent. But it is definitely something happening in the discussion and that the model is contributing to. But not everyone participating is entering the realm of plakystyle advocacy. I don't think pushing a playstyle is human nature. Also, pushing back against someone who trashes your preferred style is a totally different thing than telling people they should adopt your preferred style (or trying to argue that your preferred style is superior).
Here are some facts for you.

1. I can perform during an RPG, therefore an RPG is performance.

2. I can narrate during an RPG, therefore an RPG is narration.

3. I can write during an RPG, therefore an RPG is literary.

And so on.

You may not use all of those things all of the time, or even all of those things period. However, just because YOU don't perform, doesn't mean that performance is not a part of the RPG. It just means that you don't engage that aspect of it. The same holds true for the rest.
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Don't edit it. Leave it. I am just pointing out people in these threads are often quite rude. I definitely can post snarky remarks from time to time. But the amount of ridicule lobbed my way in the past three pages is pretty off-putting.
The humor is just that, humor. It's not ridicule lobbed your way or any other way. Some of it is a bit of ribbing.
 

Hussar

Legend
Honestly I'd rather have a player at my table who speaks with bad accents, than a player who has this attitude (and I am not particularly fond of accents or funny voices).
Seriously? You have no problem with players who play non-humans exactly the same as human characters to the point where no one at the table knows the race of the character? That it comes as a surprise when it is revealed (you're an elf? Really? Since when?)? Well, takes all kinds I suppose. To me, it's no different than any other aspect of your character. A successful portrayal of a character means that everyone at the table has a pretty decent mental image of your character, even if some of the details might be different.

This stuff is all fine if you like it. But these are very much the considerations that someone makes when they are acting. Not everyone is going to play a dwarf this way. I think on the spectrum of performance most people are not as far on the performative end as you, and many people are on the opposite end. I think it is still roleplaying if they are not doing any of this. Even if all they are doing is playing themselves with dwarf stats, that is still roleplaying as far as I am concerned. In fact, I'd argue that sometimes over emphasis on these kinds of considerations takes players more out of the moment and more out of the conversation because they are focused more on how they are presenting the character than on reacting to what is going on naturally.
If all you are doing is playing with dwarf stats, isn't that the definition of roll play? If the only reason that you are playing a dwarf is that Con bonus and darkvision, well, I'd call that pretty poor play. There's nothing there for anyone else at the table to play off of, there's nothing for the DM to grab hold of, there's just a cypher character that exists as nothing more than a bunch of numbers. And, yup, I'm going to call that out as pretty poor play.

Play the character you made. If I wanted to play nothing but a cloud of numbers, I'll stick to video games.

I agree that one is not really more important than the other. I've seen a great DM take poor content and make it interesting and fun. I've also seen a poor DM take fantastic content and ruin it. However, I've also seen that the good content makes it easier for the typical DM to make the game fun, while bad content will often stymie the typical DM, so content is equally important in my opinion.
OH, ABSOLUTELY. 100% agree with this. I in no way am trying to say that performance or presentation or whatever you want to call it is more important. It isn't. Content is extremely important.
 

Hussar

Legend
First, like I said I am just fielding replies to my response to the OP. If people want me to understand their replies they should be able to convey their position clearly in a single post rather than demand I read the entire thread (or sift through a whole thread looking for a gem the6 wrote two days ago).

Second, if you can’t clearly express your idea in a single reply, maybe there is an issue with your style of communication and not with my lack of desire to read a whole thread?

Third, reading a whole thread is time consuming. I am fine getting the gist of a thread or responding to an OP and fielding replies to my response, but I view it as a very serious waste of time to go hunting for posts in a thread or to read one from start to finish. This has nothing to do with my ability to read ‘lots of words’, and everything to do with valuing my time. I am happy to read lots of words. I am not interested in reading lots of words by random posters on the internet.
Good grief [MENTION=85555]Bedrockgames[/MENTION], how many times do you need it explained? I KNOW, since you've entered this thread, I've explained the points pretty clearly at least twice. Now, you might disagree with the points, fair enough, but, complaining that you're not understanding it because no one is taking the time to explain it seems a bit disingenuous.
 

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