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Is RPGing a *literary* endeavour?

pemerton

Legend
What do they have in common? All of them? Um .... strange use of scare quotes/asterisks!
I don't understand what you're trying to achieve. If you're not interested in the topic as it's been framed or discussed, or think the thread is unhelpful, you're very welcome not to post in it. If you think my threads involve code-of-conduct violation, you have the option of reporting them.

Are you trying to pick a fight and have this thread shut down? Are you trying to clutter the thread with enough off-topic nonsense to prove your point that the thread shouldn't exist?

If you want to take part in a thread about the use of literary/narrative devices in RPGing, then why not start one?
 

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Riley37

First Post
@Riley37, you didn't answer my question as to what you think it adds to the thread to insist that @Hriston said something that he didn't, on the basis of attributing a meaning to his words that they were not intended to bear, and which no reasonable reader of them in the context of their production would impute to them.
I have no opinion on whether that action would add anything to thread; no one has done the action which you just now described, not as you describe it.

Ovinomancer made an assertion which I considered untrue, and I challenged that assertion. I made no statement about what Hriston *intended*; I repeated a quote of Hriston's words, *exactly as written*. You can try to "stir the pot" between me and Ovinomancer, if you like, but I doubt you'll get results which are both successful and useful. If you want to get him and/or me thrown out of the thread, well, you can get me out of the thread just by PMing me a request not to comment further in this thread. The mods have enough on their hands already. I will keep *reading*, at least long enough to get Manbearcat's answers to my questions about his thoughts.

As to your question about light, light isn't an endeavour of any sort. It's a natural phenomenon.
That is a true statement. Some analogies are closer than others. Light and TRPG are not in the shared category of "natural phenomena". They are in the shared category of "things which have multiple aspects, such that the thing can only be well understood when one considers all of those aspects".

Unlike the case of light, it's therefore not a category error to ask whether RPGing is literary endeavour, any more than it would be a category error to ask whether theatre or film-making is a literary endeavour, and whether the qualities that make for good theatre or cinema are essentially literary qualities.
No more, and no less. Has anyone ever gained anything useful, by asking whether theatre or film-making is a literary endeavour, while bundling that question with the further question of whether the qualities that make for good theatre or cinema are essentially literary qualities (as if yes to the former proved yes to the latter, and vice versa)?

If the current state of the art, of theatre and/or film-making, has been advanced by such a question, then that's news to me. (shrug) But if it has, then go ahead, break the news to me!
 

Hriston

Hero
Even so, when Ovinomancer denied that anyone had said any such thing - well, as a matter of fact, you HAD said that thing.
[MENTION=16814]Ovinomancer[/MENTION] denied that anyone in this thread had said that how content is presented cannot determine whether people wish to engage with it.

Here’s what I said:

Because color (dungeon dressing) is content that provides atmosphere when imagined by the participants at the table. The quality of form with which it’s expressed isn’t what’s important but rather whether the odors, noises, furnishings, and items found in an area suggest a torture chamber, a harem, or a wizard’s laboratory. In other words, it’s the actual content that matters, not the particular words that are used and the way they are said.
NOT the same thing!
 

Riley37

First Post
Okay, if

(a) the quality of form isn't important
(b) whether (X in-game phenomena) suggest (Y category of room) (for various X and Y) is what's important
(c) the content matters
(d) the particular words that are used don't matter
(e) the way that they are said doesn't matter

but "matters" does not include "whether people wish to engage"

then you and I have divergent understandings of "matter".
"Matter" is relative; something can matter to me and not to you.

I was a drop-in player at a game store today. The DM read aloud some boxed text. He didn't read it SO badly, that I left the table - but his perfunctory tone affected how many players listened how closely, and did or didn't pick up on mission-relevant content.

One way of truth-testing an assertion, is to check whether it leads to false conclusions.
Here's a link to one of my favorite examples: http://ceadserv1.nku.edu/longa//classes/mat385_resources/docs/russellpope.html


So let's apply your scope of what does and doesn't matter, to the next time I will TRPG.
I will run a game tomorrow, at the same store, with walk-in players.
If the PCs walk into a room, and I give a description of the room which suggests a torture chamber (eg the captive cowering in a cage)
and I do so in rapid, elided Spanish
that is, if the only difference between tomorrow's instance, and previous times I've run the adventure, is "the choice of words and the way they are said"
and the players who don't speak Spanish leave the table
then by your standards, I conveyed all the necessary content, and some of the players left over *something that doesn't matter*, so it's not my fault.
The departure of those players, however, will matter *to me*.
Again, condensed: if the choice of words and the way they are said, results in players disengaging, that's within the scope of what matters *to me*.
If it doesn't matter to you, then *shrug* you DM your way, and I'll DM mine.
 

Aldarc

Legend
I was a drop-in player at a game store today. The DM read aloud some boxed text. He didn't read it SO badly, that I left the table - but his perfunctory tone affected how many players listened how closely, and did or didn't pick up on mission-relevant content.
So the literary content of the written text (e.g., diction, structure, style, content) was deprecated by the tone and performance? What if the DM had not read the boxed text aloud - a rote performance - but had instead engaged in a more natural style that communicated the message of the boxed text without reading from it? What you say here suggests that something else that has not really been explored in the conversation much: that the premade "literature" fails to engage the DM who is running it for players. Normally, this has been framed from the presumption that the DM is engaged and we are instead focused on non-DM player engagement.
 

Riley37

First Post
So the literary content of the written text (e.g., diction, structure, style, content) was deprecated by the tone and performance?
Maybe the literary content, but insofar as the relationship between "literary" and "content" is already a point of contention, I'd rather say that the literary effect or impact was reduced He didn't convey excitement or strong interest in the written text. For his purposes, "it's a generic science fiction orbital station, apply tropes as needed" sufficed, except when zooming in on plot-crucial details. At one point, he said "the meeting location is a few blocks away... well, not blocks..." I responded with something like "how about, it's four bulkheads spinwards from here?" and he said "Sure, go with that."

the premade "literature" fails to engage the DM who is running it for players. Normally, this has been framed from the presumption that the DM is engaged and we are instead focused on non-DM player engagement.
Well put. Thank you. Yeah, in this case the author and the DM at the table were different people, perhaps with different goals for use of descriptive language. For all I know, the people who wrote the module cranked up the formality of the prose style, for boxed text, on the basis of tradition - that is, perhaps they felt obligated to match the style of boxed text in whatever modules had formed their understanding of TRPG. As if a module had to provide boxed text with long sentences and lots of scenery-describing adjectives, or else it would not inspire respect, if you know what I mean. FWIW, the DM had found a story/module written for Starfinder, but was running it in the Warhammer setting, and some nuances of tone or scenery may have suffered some distortion in the process.

Now I'm extra glad that I gamed today, and that I brought a recent example into the thread, because Aldarc picked up on something in the example!

(I imagine that more value may ensue from Aldarc's point, than from the chain of (a) Hriston's declaration, (b) Ovinomancer's declaration, (c) my contradiction of Ovinomancer's declaration and (d) pemerton's counter-contradiction. Time will tell. And "value" varies by who does the assessment of value...)
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Okay, if

(a) the quality of form isn't important
(b) whether (X in-game phenomena) suggest (Y category of room) (for various X and Y) is what's important
(c) the content matters
(d) the particular words that are used don't matter
(e) the way that they are said doesn't matter

but "matters" does not include "whether people wish to engage"

then you and I have divergent understandings of "matter".
"Matter" is relative; something can matter to me and not to you.
I agree. If nobody wants to engage with the content, then the content doesn't matter. If "it's the actual content that matters,'' content determines whether people engage or not.

Now, I clearly do not agree that "it's the actual content that matters." I think both content and presentation matter equally. Of course, you can never guarantee engagement. 100% content, 100% presentation, 50/50%, sometimes you are going to whiff and the players won't be interested.
 
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Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
So the literary content of the written text (e.g., diction, structure, style, content) was deprecated by the tone and performance? What if the DM had not read the boxed text aloud - a rote performance - but had instead engaged in a more natural style that communicated the message of the boxed text without reading from it? What you say here suggests that something else that has not really been explored in the conversation much: that the premade "literature" fails to engage the DM who is running it for players. Normally, this has been framed from the presumption that the DM is engaged and we are instead focused on non-DM player engagement.
In my experience, this is less about the DM failing to be engaged, and more that the DM has failed to learn the box text in advance and just reads it as he goes. If he had learned it in advance and was able to describe the scene with the box text as the guide, the players would have been more engaged.
 


Riley37

First Post
In my experience, this is less about the DM failing to be engaged, and more that the DM has failed to learn the box text in advance and just reads it as he goes. If he had learned it in advance and was able to describe the scene with the box text as the guide, the players would have been more engaged.
In this case, those two factors - DM engagement, and DM preparation - went hand in hand. He didn't care much, so (a) he neither rehearsed narration nor internalized the content well enough to describe it in his own words and (b) we didn't care either. Unfortunately, the "we didn't care either" extended to details useful for getting through the pretext of investigating our way to a fight scene. (And for amusing role-play and problem-solving along our way to a fight scene.)
 

Bobble

Villager
There will always be those few who over think the simple. Role playing is role playing. It has been around since the dawn of time. Children do it instinctively.
 




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