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Is RPGing a *literary* endeavour?

hawkeyefan

Explorer
I would tend to think of "rictus grin" as falling on the literary side of things, as does [MENTION=22779]Hussar[/MENTION].

As I've posted, it does no harm if it doesn't impede (what I regard as) the real point of play.

It has a face like a skull might do just as well. I personally can't remember how I've described githyanki in the past - I suspect I'm more likely to have shown a picture, such as the one on the front of the Fiend Folio.

More generally, and feeding this into the current [MENTION=23751]Maxperson[/MENTION] - [MENTION=16814]Ovinomancer[/MENTION] interaction, I think that the role of description in RPGing is easily overestimated. It prioritises immersive imagination orver protagonistic inhabitation. Whereas the latter is the distinctive virtue of RPGs as games that are about producing a shared fiction.

All this said, I think you've fully understood my points in this thread, seem to agree at least to some extent, and have made many helpful posts into it for which I thank you.
Skeletal would certainly be plainer language. It’s definitely what I was trying to convey, but rictus popped into my head so I went with it.

I think description is important, but that the amount of description needed is often exaggerated. I’d even say that literary effort can be great for a game, but probably has to be used sparingly or minimally. But I think I’d agree with you about the priority you place on such when compared to inhabitation.
 

Maxperson

Orcus on an on Day
I don't agree that there's a consensus: I can't really tell what [MENTION=23751]Maxperson[/MENTION] thinks, but [MENTION=48965]Imaro[/MENTION] and [MENTION=22779]Hussar[/MENTION] have made claims about the need for entertaining/evocative narration that I think clearly contradict the position I asserted in the OP.
For descriptiveness, I think I probably fall in-between you and Imaro/Hussar.

But one complicating fact pertains to vocabularly: eg I wouldn't regard cadaverous as a word to describe a Githyanki as especially remarkable or a-conversational, but Hussar probably would, and maybe [MENTION=85555]Bedrockgames[/MENTION] also. What counts as every day vocabularly among a group of RPGers is pretty highly variable and contingent on a range of factors (social background/status, educational levels, occupation, etc). I'm a humanities/social sciene academic (philosophy and law) and many of the people I talk to on a regular basis (ie the people I work with, my students, etc) are lilkewise, or are aspiring to be. So I think my every day vocaublary is probably richer than the New York Times.
That just puts you and your colleagues beyond the realm of everyday conversational English, though. The average American reads at the 7th/8th grade level. For the most part, they aren't going to speak much better than they can read.
 

hawkeyefan

Explorer
Not really. If you are using language that is above and beyond every day speech, then it's not really a conversation anymore. Not when you are specifically CHOOSING those words. Sure, Githyanki is a neologism and obviously is outside the realm of standard conversation. But, note, your description doesn't actually use that word. My point is, the words you used are very far outside the realm of standard conversation. And, it's not a "few" words. When 10% of your language is outside that standard 5000 words list, you're actually using a very difficult to understand set of words.

Think about it. If you didn't understand 10% of what someone is saying, would you be able to carry on a coherent conversation? One word in 10? That's REALLY high. Imagine if, when reading the newspaper, you had to stop every tenth word and look it up in a dictionary. That's WAY beyond every day language. Now, I realize that as native speakers, our vocabularies are actually considerably greater than 5000 words. Fair enough. But, it's still a measure of difficulty.

That's why I'd argue that the plain English version of your description of a Githyanki is outside the realm of conversation. It's certainly using language that would virtually never be used in spoken English. Think about it, outside of a gaming situation, when have you ever used the words "gaunt" or "wield" in a spoken situation.
You didn’t understand 10% of the words I used? Of course not...you understood them all. A few (shall we spend a few pages on the technical definition of “few” or will you simply accept my use?) of the words used are uncommon. That doesn’t make them unknown.

So I’m not going to accept this “10% of the description was useless” because that’s just silly. Honestly....D&D players are gonna balk at the word “wield”? Or “gaunt”?

Come on.
 

hawkeyefan

Explorer
I don't agree that there's a consensus: I can't really tell what [MENTION=23751]Maxperson[/MENTION] thinks, but [MENTION=48965]Imaro[/MENTION] and [MENTION=22779]Hussar[/MENTION] have made claims about the need for entertaining/evocative narration that I think clearly contradict the position I asserted in the OP.
Yeah I know....that last bit was sarcasm on my part. I know there’s no consensus.

This is why I have brought it back to what are we aiming for? What counts as success, as good RPGing? What should a GM focus on?
“What are we aiming for” is probably the best way to look at it. I’d never say “quality prose” ahead of “an interesting game”. I wouldn’t expect that to be universal, but I’m surprised at the amount of support there seems to be for that view.
 

Hussar

Legend
You didn’t understand 10% of the words I used? Of course not...you understood them all. A few (shall we spend a few pages on the technical definition of “few” or will you simply accept my use?) of the words used are uncommon. That doesn’t make them unknown.

So I’m not going to accept this “10% of the description was useless” because that’s just silly. Honestly....D&D players are gonna balk at the word “wield”? Or “gaunt”?

Come on.
Sorry, you're right, they aren't unknown. But, my point being, they aren't what you'd use in conversation either. Would you actually use the words "wield" or "gaunt" in a conversation?

"A gaunt man wielding a gun robbed a liquor store" is not something you will ever hear in a conversation. You certainly might hear "A thin man armed with a gun" or "carrying a gun", but "wielding"? That's not going to be used.

The way I'm seeing it, we've got a spectrum with high art prose on one end (think Tolkien, high Gygaxian, H. P. Lovecraft - if we want to use genre literature) and what you'd hear in a conversation or in the news on the other. As far as I can tell, [MENTION=85555]Bedrockgames[/MENTION] is arguing for a level of prose where "an orc with a sword enters the room" is about as much description as he wants. You gave a Githyanki description that is much further along the scale, as did I with the description of the Vengaurak. As far as [MENTION=42582]pemerton[/MENTION] goes, I really have no idea where on the scale he's coming down on since he's playing arpeggios up and down the scale so long as he can keep pretending that there is any real disagreement going on.

So, no, it's not "10% of the description was useless". Sorry, I never meant that as the take away. Not at all. It's that the presence of that 10% slides the description away from the "pure conversation" end of the scale and further (and, really, where it's 10% of the words, pretty far actually) down towards the "high art" end of the scale.
 

Riley37

Villager
Why won't you engage with the fact that you disagree with me?
Maybe because you have not made any assertions which are (a) sufficiently concrete for falsification testing (Karl Popper style) and (b) in contrast with any assertions from Hussar.

You said in the OP that TRPG is not a literary endeavor. I asked, on the first page: if it is, then what? if not, then what?

100+ pages later, have you answered my question?

Hussar has said (if I understand correctly) that he prefers TRPG which includes descriptive prose which goes beyond bog-standard conversation in the core 2000 vocabulary.

You have stated that YOU have participated in games with flowery prose and YOU have not enjoyed them. Perhaps you and BRG would be happy at each other's tables.

You haven't yet made a concrete, falsification-testable assertion about anything other than your personal tastes in TRPG.

You have not, AFAIK, asserted "Hussar does not enjoy TRPG with flowery prose." THAT would be a disagreement, THAT would be a contradiction of his assertion.

You could - if you were willing to go out on a limb - assert that "GMs who put any effort into florid narration, are (invariably) GMs who run bad games. Their games are no fun for players - not fun for me, and also not fun for anyone else. We should burn any module which uses Gygaxian boxed text." If you stake out THAT position, then I will disagree with you; and maybe Hussar will too.

But you haven't said that, not yet. Will you?

I only have a problem with florid GM narration when it comes *at the expense of listening to players and resolving action declarations*. A GM who wants players to respond to his narration with a round of applause - as a passive audience - rather than responding with action declarations - THAT is a GM whose table would annoy or bore me, and perhaps many or most other players. I've known a GM who had a tendency in that direction; so I stopped playing at his table. Problem solved.
 
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Lanefan

Hero
Following quote altered slightly by addition of numbers to make my response easier to parse...
This is why I have brought it back to what are we aiming for? What counts as success, as good RPGing? What should a GM focus on?

And I'm saying

1. situation - framing, action, consequence - [over]
2. beauty or evocation in narration.
Where I say a GM should focus on using 2 to make 1 more interesting and-or immersive and-or exciting whenever she can, because 1 is always going to be there no matter what and at whatever quality it was going to be at anyway. Why not dress it up a little?
 

Lanefan

Hero
“What are we aiming for” is probably the best way to look at it. I’d never say “quality prose” ahead of “an interesting game”.
Ahead of? No

As a part of? Certainly! Quality prose, unless completely overdone, is far more likely to add interest than diminish it.
 

Aldarc

Explorer
Hey, if all it takes to be using conversational English is to use it in a conversation, then even the most high quality literary language used in an RPG counts as conversational.

It's pretty well understood that when people here have been discussing conversational English, they mean using the simple words and not the ones that fall outside of normal, everyday conversation.
An automechanic will have a range of vocabulary that "falls outside of normal, everyday conversation," but I don't think that we would credibly accuse them for using the technical jargon of their field as part of their conversation as speaking with "literary language." That would be ridiculous. This is because we can recognize that they are not speaking with any sense of sculpted prose or word play, but with prevalent words of their field.
 

Aldarc

Explorer
Ahead of? No

As a part of? Certainly! Quality prose, unless completely overdone, is far more likely to add interest than diminish it.
Considering your emphasis on interactionism as an integral part of the RPG process, where an important part of the gameplay is PCs interacting with the gameworld, I have been somewhat surprised by your position in this thread. From what I can tell, pemerton, is offering an incredibly pragmatic sense for the purpose of GM narration that is focused on aiding the player agency and decision-making process that is integral for an interactionist approach. Interactionism seems to hinge on players having a practical, informed sense of the scene.

You said in the OP that TRPG is not a literary endeavor. I asked, on the first page: if it is, then what? if not, then what?

100+ pages later, have you answered my question?
I thought that this was fairly apparent early on when he says that they are a conversational endeavor entailing a back-and-forth between the GM and player contributing to the fiction through their relevant roles. I gleaned this fairly easily from actually reading the OP.

You haven't yet made a concrete, falsification-testable assertion about other than your personal tastes in TRPG.
The meat of his assertion was that it's more important for the functioning of RPGs that information be communicated to players in a manner that informs and engages player agency in the fiction than for GMs to focus on the prosaic quality of the GM narration.

We could also rephrase pemerton's assertion in another way. What hurts the functioning of the game more? The loss of performative literary prosaic narration? Or players not having a sense of how to meaningfully react or contribute to the fiction in a scene as agents?
 

Bedrockgames

Villager
I'm not talking in absolutes. However, in 35+ years of gaming with more than 100 different people, I can't remember anyone who would rather hear, "There's a long, thick, hard, round, six foot, brown wooden staff on the ground." than "There's an intricately carved feywood staff on the ground." I imagine you aren't the only one, but I'm pretty confident that you are in a small minority of people if you prefer #1 over #1, especially since #2 is conversational English. Other than feywood, which would be a setting specific wood, there's nothing there that isn't conversational.
I think you are just making assumptions now...also I didn't say I preferred 1 over 2. I said 1 has more information, and there are definitely more analytically minded players who don't care about the flavorful description as much as they care about the info. And I don't think they are a small minority in our hobby.

That said, you are right, these two descriptions are both pretty conversational, not literary. So the example is a bit puzzling anyways. Example two is just a bit vague.

Again, I don't think this argument makes a whole lot of sense. We are talking about a conversational medium. Literary doesn't really seem like it would apply. you can try to run a game in a literary style. but I don't think it is necessary. Nor do I think it is particularly advisable.
 
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Bedrockgames

Villager
As a part of? Certainly! Quality prose, unless completely overdone, is far more likely to add interest than diminish it.
Except we are speaking at the table, not reading prose generally (and even if you are literally reading from boxed text, you are saying it aloud). I don't think the effect is the same when spoken in the context of a dynamic conversation at the table, as it is when you have prose on a page. Prose isn't what is called for. Doesn't mean you won't get interesting dashes or flavor or see nice word choices. But forcing literary considerations into your talking, I think is misguided, because most people simply don't talk the way authors write. And whenever I've encountered a 'boxed text' style of GM narration, it sounds very hokey and odd to me.
 

Riley37

Villager
I asked, on page 1 and again on page 119: if TRPG is literary, then what? if TRPG isn't literary, then what?

I thought that this was fairly apparent early on when he says that they are a conversational endeavor entailing a back-and-forth between the GM and player contributing to the fiction through their relevant roles.
If this conversational endeavor is also a literary endeavor, *how does that overlap of endeavor differ from non-overlap?*
You still haven't answered my question. (Smugness does not, itself, constitute an answer.)

The meat of his assertion was that it's more important for the functioning of RPGs that information be communicated to players in a manner that informs and engages player agency in the fiction than for GMs to focus on the prosaic quality of the GM narration.
You say that as if the prosaic quality of the GM narration had nothing to do with whether that narration conveys information in a manner which informs and engages player agency in the fiction. GM narration which uses an *appropriate* measure of literary technique will clearly establish the scene in the mind's eye of the players, more reliably than GM narration which does not.

Players sometimes ask GMs for descriptions using literary tropes. For example, I was running a one-shot adventure in a science fiction setting, in which the PCs are the crew of a freighter. A player asked me whether the PCs were wearing bulky space suits with big goldfish-bowl helmets, or jumpsuits with zippers, as a general indication of the imagery and the technology level of the setting. If the player had felt better served by *not* applying literary tropes, then the player would not have asked in those terms.

We could also rephrase pemerton's assertion in another way. What hurts the functioning of the game more? The loss of performative literary prosaic narration? Or players not having a sense of how to meaningfully react or contribute to the fiction in a scene as agents?
Okay, then here's my counter-assertion: how is an assertion still an assertion when you rephrase it as a question, and how is it honest when it frames two factors as a mutually exclusive fork, when in actual practice, one can be a consequence of the other?

GM Alex tells the players: "You enter the room. There's a wooden door on the north side, comfortably sized for Jinbat (the gnome PC) but Yurk (the human PC) would have to squeeze through. There's a jagged crack in the west wall, leading into a dark, damp tunnel. There's a staff leaning against the walls in the northwest corner, made of dark wood, with a spiral pattern of intricately carved symbols."

I enjoy the picture in my mind's eye resulting from the description. I have an immediate idea of what my PC will do: get ye staff and see if I recognize the symbols.

Then, as per your formulation of pemerton's dilemma, let's remove the prosaic quality of the narration, and see whether that removal increases or decreases player agency.

GM Bob tells the players "You enter the room. Exits are north and west. There's a staff."

As a player at Bob's table, I have *less* of an immediate sense of what my PC will do. I will ask Bob several follow-up questions. This may be as easy and fun as pulling teeth. Eventually I'll get some detail on what Bob meant by "exits". There's a chance that during that process, I'll forget that Bob ever mentioned a staff. The removal of literary quality from GM narration does not leave me *better* empowered, as a player, to make appropriate, well-informed action declarations. The result is not an improvement. At Alex's table, my PC now has a cool staff, and may at some point discover whatever awesome things can be done with it. At Bob's table, my PC doesn't even know the staff exists, and walked right past it on the way out of the room.

Some players play their PCs as well-prepared tactical experts AND play their PCs as people with personalities. Some players who do the former and not the latter. The problem isn't that they're doing the former. The problem is that they're not also doing the latter. Stormwind's Fallacy asserts that anyone who does the former is therefore, *necessarily*, not doing the latter. This is false, and creates unhelpful divisions among gamers.


Some GMs put effort into their narration and/or their role-playing of NPCs, AND put effort into presenting the players with a fictional environment rich with opportunities for PC actions (and interactions). Some GMs do the former and not the latter. The problem isn't that they're doing the former. The problem is that they're not also doing the latter. Pemerton's Fallacy - or is it just Aldarc's Fallacy? - asserts that any GM who does the former, is therefore necessarily NOT doing the latter.
 

Bedrockgames

Villager
You say that as if the prosaic quality of the GM narration had nothing to do with whether that narration conveys information in a manner which informs and engages player agency in the fiction. GM narration which uses an *appropriate* measure of literary technique will clearly establish the scene in the mind's eye of the players, more reliably than GM narration which does not.
.
You and others are treating this true before it has even been established it is the case. I don't think there is reason to believe literary techniques will a) Translate smoothly into GM narration and b) establish the scene more clearly in the mind's eye of the player. Just listen to how people talk when they tell a story, and how people engage them by asking clarifying questions. It isn't particularly literary. And to be honest, even if it were, that doesn't mean it is effective. Its effectiveness in GM narration needs to be proven here, and I don't think a strong case has been made for it.

Also this is really important, authorial narration is not about "inform(ing) and engag(ing) [reader] agency in the fiction". As a reader of a novel, you have no agency. That is one of the key differences in an RPG, and something that would hugely impact whether any of these techniques can be ported in without adjusting them to the medium first.
 
the reason the game sucked is because the GM's situations sucked. Has NOTHING to do with the language used. Again, EVERYONE 100% agrees with you that content is important.

<snip>

But, that's not your arguement. Your argument is that the game sucked because of the higher language used. But, that's not true. You need BOTH for a good game. Same as has been said all the way since the first freaking page.
This shows you misunderstand what I'm claiming. And you reiterate your disagreement with me. I've bolded it for you.

I don't think the language makes it suck. I think the language as such is neither here nor there; and that working on the language - which is a common practice when aiming for literary quality - may well be an impediment.

Here's another example to illustrate my point: I've played with players who cannot write, who cannot act, whose literary intuitions are those of 4As and a D graduates (that's an Australian-ism - the D is for compulsry English in Year 12), but who are terrific RPGers, who frankly kick the *rses of "thespian" RPGers I've played with, because they know how to inhabit a charcter and engage a situation.

Which has nothing to do with needing evocative language or caring about wordcraft.
 
That just puts you and your colleagues beyond the realm of everyday conversational English, though. The average American reads at the 7th/8th grade level. For the most part, they aren't going to speak much better than they can read.
I don't think there are any Americans among me and my colleagues. A couple of Candians.

My play group has a mix of educational levels - Year 12 through to PhDs in literary disciplines - but all can read above a 7th grade level. I have no idea whether the typical American would follow our conversations - it's never come up that I can recall - but that doesn't make them not conversation.
 
Maybe because you have not made any assertions which are (a) sufficiently concrete for falsification testing (Karl Popper style)
Popper has a (controversial) theory of what makes a claim, or perhaps a collection of claims, scientific.

I'm not making a scientific claim. I'm making an aesthetic claim. So Popperian falsifiability has nothing to do with it.

My claim is about the point of RPGing, what makes it a distinctive and worthwhile creative endeavour. Not far upthread [MENTION=5142]Aldarc[/MENTION] has given a pretty good account of my claim, so I'll add a few glosses to that.

I am saying that entertainment in virtue of quality narration and performance is not what makes RPGing a distinctive and worthwhile creative endeavour. Rather, it's situation and resulting inhabitation and protagonism.

I've said why I think this: because quality narration and performance are the weakest elements of the typical RPG experience (given the ready availability to most RPGers of genuinely quality narrations and performances), whereas protagonism in the context of engaging situation is the distinct thing that RPGs offer.

When [MENTION=22779]Hussar[/MENTION] and [MENTION=48965]Imaro[/MENTION] say that they would quit games with ordinary-language descriptions because they'd find them too boring, my thought in response is that those games must have weak situations, or GMs who don't facilitiate protagonism. After all, both experience and reading lead me to think there's plenty of that going around.

To elaborate on that last point:
[MENTION=22779]Hussar[/MENTION] has tended to equate situation with content referring eg to boring content. But as I've indicated in and since the OP, good situation isn't about non-boring content. It's about the call to action, the invitation to protagonism. As far as I can tell those sorts of notions play little or no role in Hussar's conception of RPGing - if they do, he hasn't said anything about them in this thread as best I can recall.
[MENTION=29398]Lanefan[/MENTION], too, has quite recently posted that a GM should use language to make situation "more interesting", and has said that "situation is always going to be there no matter what". But this second claim isn't true if by situation one means what I've been talking about since the OP. I've played in, and witnessed, and read reports of episodes of RPGing in which there is no call to action, no meaningful framing, no genuine action and consequence. My contention that that is a failure of RPGing regardless of the literary quality of the narration and the evocative nature of the performances.
 

Aldarc

Explorer
I would also like to repudiate the fallacy of equating vocabulary size with conversational or non-literary narration because this seems to be surfacing in various forms over the past few pages.

This is because we can see literary quality, attention to stylistic features of word composition, and word-sculpting within the framework of a smaller than average English vocabulary, particularly in children's literature. If we look at the written work of Dr. Seuss, for example, people often talk of how it is written in what is referred to as Seussian meter (e.g., anapestic tetrameter). The diction and meter are incredibly important for reading Dr. Seuss, but the vocabulary itself is quite simplistic. But we can also recognize quite readily that despite the smaller vocabulary size that the Seussian canon exhibits that the style of writing deviates from conversational norms. We don't naturally talk in the fashion that Dr. Seuss writes. It has a performative quality. This often also true for a number of other children's literature books, even if we compared them to both adult and children speech patterns.

That's why it feels like a bit of a discursive distraction to frame this discussion in terms of comparable vocabulary size. Just because someone has a larger-than-average vocabulary style does not mean that they naturally speak in a more literary style just because they may include bigger words outside of that typical vocabulary set. That's not really what is being expressed by discussing literary vs. conversational/natural style. The point is to speak naturally and communicate as best you can the nature of the scene in a way that helps the players understand the scene such that they can engage the scene's fiction as players. IMHO, the compositional quality of GM narration is only as strong as the player's ability to understand what is going on and whether their responses reflect what was communicated.

I have been watching a lot of Matthew Colville's videos where he talks as a GM about the previous game session of the campaign he runs and hints at future sessions. He likes to do this a lot, so you can find a number of his session retrospectives for various campaigns on YouTube. He likes to have a certain thespian quality to his games. He likes to roleplay the NPCs. He does like to interject a literary feel to some of his dialogue, though he also is incredibly improvisational. But in a number of his session retrospectives, most of his GMing regrets seem to pertain to how well he actually communicate the stakes to the players or what was actually happening in a scene. Because sometimes the GM as actor got in the way of the GM's intent to frame a scene for the players to understand the scenario.
 
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Aldarc

Explorer
I asked, on page 1 and again on page 119: if TRPG is literary, then what? if TRPG isn't literary, then what?
Okay. Good for you, I guess. But even if [MENTION=42582]pemerton[/MENTION] never addressed the question explicitly, it does not seem all that difficult with a modicum of effort to piece together pemerton's answers within the page frame of 1 and 119.

I also feel that it's important to point out, since you had mentioned it earlier, that Karl Popper's falsification testing (1) is not necessarily applicable outside of scientific testing, where it has been criticized in other fields (e.g., politics, history, literature, mathematics, etc.), and (2) it has also been criticized within scientific testing and science. So I am skeptical whether a Popperian approach is feasible for our present inquiry or whether it is (likely) a misguided attempt to fit a square peg into a round hole.

If this conversational endeavor is also a literary endeavor, *how does that overlap of endeavor differ from non-overlap?
You still haven't answered my question.
I don't think that your question is particularly clear.

GM narration which uses an *appropriate* measure of literary technique will clearly establish the scene in the mind's eye of the players, more reliably than GM narration which does not.
But it is not dependent on it, which I suspect relates to pemerton's point. Literary technique is secondary to engaging the player goal of agency within the fiction.

Players sometimes ask GMs for descriptions using literary tropes. For example, I was running a one-shot adventure in a science fiction setting, in which the PCs are the crew of a freighter. A player asked me whether the PCs were wearing bulky space suits with big goldfish-bowl helmets, or jumpsuits with zippers, as a general indication of the imagery and the technology level of the setting. If the player had felt better served by *not* applying literary tropes, then the player would not have asked in those terms.
I don't think that pemerton is actually talking about this.

Okay, then here's my counter-assertion: how is an assertion still an assertion when you rephrase it as a question,
Because the original assertion still exists in the OP, I'm just trying to rephrase it so that you can hopefully understand what is being said better.

and how is it honest when it frames two factors as a mutually exclusive fork, when in actual practice, one can be a consequence of the other?
My question was not framing the two factors as a mutually exclusive fork, so you that's a bit of a reading comprehension fail on your part. It's not a fork. It's about which aspect of the game is more essential for its functioning.

You can certainly develop a literary style of GM narration or choose not to, but what ultimately matters is that players understand the stakes of the fiction so they can exercise their player agency to engage that fiction accordingly. Now compare this position that pemerton outlines with the position advocated by others that the game will fall apart without the literary narration. Pemerton's position seems more reasonable than the other.

GM Alex tells the players: "You enter the room. There's a wooden door on the north side, comfortably sized for Jinbat (the gnome PC) but Yurk (the human PC) would have to squeeze through. There's a jagged crack in the west wall, leading into a dark, damp tunnel. There's a staff leaning against the walls in the northwest corner, made of dark wood, with a spiral pattern of intricately carved symbols."

I enjoy the picture in my mind's eye resulting from the description. I have an immediate idea of what my PC will do: get ye staff and see if I recognize the symbols.

Then, as per your formulation of pemerton's dilemma, let's remove the prosaic quality of the narration, and see whether that removal increases or decreases player agency.
Fine, but this GM narration does not strike me as literary. Your description here honestly seems incredibly conversational. The GM lets the players know by name that one player character can fit through the door in the scene but another can't. It feels more like an outline of information for the players. And it delves into pemerton's point quite nicely: enough was conveyed in the GM narration to inform the players about how they could possibly engage the fiction as players.

Some GMs put effort into their narration and/or their role-playing of NPCs, AND put effort into presenting the players with a fictional environment rich with opportunities for PC actions (and interactions). Some GMs do the former and not the latter. The problem isn't that they're doing the former. The problem is that they're not also doing the latter. Pemerton's Fallacy - or is it just Aldarc's Fallacy? - asserts that any GM who does the former, is therefore necessarily NOT doing the latter.
I don't think it's appropriate that [MENTION=6786839]Riley37[/MENTION]'s Strawman that you outline here should be referred to as either "Pemerton's Fallacy" or "Aldarc's Fallacy." :confused: I would personally prefer, Riley37, if you were to engage with my actual positions in this thread and not with your knee-jerk reactions.
 

Maxperson

Orcus on an on Day
An automechanic will have a range of vocabulary that "falls outside of normal, everyday conversation," but I don't think that we would credibly accuse them for using the technical jargon of their field as part of their conversation as speaking with "literary language." That would be ridiculous. This is because we can recognize that they are not speaking with any sense of sculpted prose or word play, but with prevalent words of their field.
But neither are those mechanics speaking conversational English, which is what [MENTION=85555]Bedrockgames[/MENTION] says he wants.
 

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