Is RPGing a *literary* endeavour?

Bedrockgames

Adventurer
Again, maybe this is because I play exclusively online. The images that I use in my game are rather painstakingly chosen or created. I could simply use an "O" with a circle around it for an orc, or, I could use a cool image for that orc that shows the players why they shouldn't just ignore said orc.
I play mainly online as well too. But this is actually one of my pet peeves as a player. Let me imagine the character based on the information you give, don't waste times showing me pictures of what they might look like. I will take how I imagine an NPC any day over stock art from the internet.

That's the basic difference, [MENTION=85555]Bedrockgames[/MENTION], that I'm talking about between content and performance. If a black and white line map a la Dyson Logos along with simple black and white letter tokens floats your boat, then, well, go for it. For me, it doesn't.
What is wrong with black and white line map art (particularly stuff by Dyson Logos)?

It is a game of imagination. I don't see why we need more than that to fuel the fun.
 

pemerton

Legend
Role playing, otoh, is attempting to portray some sort of character to the people at the table in such a way that the other people can get some sort of mental image of what you are. There's very little back and forth. It's primarily a performance. And that performance is judged by the people at the table. A player who is nothing but a dice bot with a heart beat is communicating excellently - he's playing the game. But, he's not someone I want at my table.
You seem to be setting up a contrast - performance intended to creata a mental image of who the PC is vs dice bot with a heart beat - that doesn't correspond to my own RPGing experiences.

Central to player-side RPGing is action declaration. That's how the player reveals who his/her PC is. Whereas being a dicebot suggests that someone else (perhaps the GM?) is deciding what the actions are.

Maybe you mostly play modules/pre-written adventures, where the action declarations are essentially established in advance by the adventure writer?
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
Performance is how you communicate that content to the players.
I don't agree with this. Performance can exist within D&D, but not all that is said is performance. Talking is how you communicate the content to the players. Performance would be if you add in voices, alter tones to try to convey different feelings, etc. If you're just reading a text box in a normal voice, even if there is descriptive language, it's not performance. The DM and players are also performing when they step into character and speak in first person, as opposed to saying that "My character Grok doesn't get it," or "The innkeeper says that he isn't going to explain it again."

Also, playing RPGs CAN be a literary endeavor or at least aspects of it can be. If the DM preps things in advance, including text boxes and such, that's a literary work. If the player is writing down things for his PC to say and do or recording what is done during gameplay on paper, that's literary work. It doesn't have to be a novel to qualify. Any essay, diary, or other written project. If the DM is running an improv type game where the DM and players are creating the content as they go, the result wouldn't be a literary work unless someone is recording it on paper.
 

Satyrn

Villager
I don't agree with this. Performance can exist within D&D, but not all that is said is performance. Talking is how you communicate the content to the players. Performance would be if you add in voices, alter tones to try to convey different feelings, etc. If you're just reading a text box in a normal voice, even if there is descriptive language, it's not performance. The DM and players are also performing when they step into character and speak in first person, as opposed to saying that "My character Grok doesn't get it," or "The innkeeper says that he isn't going to explain it again."
Yeah, that's a certain kind of performance, and that seems to be the one that everybody except Hussar is using.

He seems to be talking about performance the way you'd talk about an audio book's narrator or your performance reading a passage in English class. Something that could be better understood as delivery (although your delivery still constitutes a very modest performance).
 

Hussar

Legend
/snip
What is wrong with black and white line map art (particularly stuff by Dyson Logos)?

It is a game of imagination. I don't see why we need more than that to fuel the fun.
I loathe the Dyson Logos stuff. It's boring, dry and looks for too 80's for me. Give me a full color map a la Cartographer's Guild any day of the week. I ejected every single map from my Dragon Heist module and replaced them all. It's to the point where I'm really on the fence about the new Saltmarsh modules simply because of the inclusion of Dyson Logos cartography.

..............

Ok, ok. I give. I surrender. I was using "Performance" to mean delivery and presentation. Because, well, frankly, what is performance if it's not delivery and presentation? But, sure. Pick a bloody term that you like. We started with "literary", which no one understood what it meant, I proposed Performance, but, apparently, that's not right. So, fine. You folks pick a term, give me the definition and we'll discuss that.

Because all this back and forth semantic :):):):):):):):) is a complete and utter waste of time. I explained the terms as I understood them. Can we at least pick words that you folks like and get back to the actual point instead of farting around with this?

Sheesh.
 

Imaro

Adventurer
I loathe the Dyson Logos stuff. It's boring, dry and looks for too 80's for me. Give me a full color map a la Cartographer's Guild any day of the week. I ejected every single map from my Dragon Heist module and replaced them all. It's to the point where I'm really on the fence about the new Saltmarsh modules simply because of the inclusion of Dyson Logos cartography.

..............

Ok, ok. I give. I surrender. I was using "Performance" to mean delivery and presentation. Because, well, frankly, what is performance if it's not delivery and presentation? But, sure. Pick a bloody term that you like. We started with "literary", which no one understood what it meant, I proposed Performance, but, apparently, that's not right. So, fine. You folks pick a term, give me the definition and we'll discuss that.

Because all this back and forth semantic :):):):):):):):) is a complete and utter waste of time. I explained the terms as I understood them. Can we at least pick words that you folks like and get back to the actual point instead of farting around with this?

Sheesh.
I thought we were talking about presentation...
 

Maxperson

Morkus from Orkus
I loathe the Dyson Logos stuff. It's boring, dry and looks for too 80's for me. Give me a full color map a la Cartographer's Guild any day of the week. I ejected every single map from my Dragon Heist module and replaced them all. It's to the point where I'm really on the fence about the new Saltmarsh modules simply because of the inclusion of Dyson Logos cartography.

..............

Ok, ok. I give. I surrender. I was using "Performance" to mean delivery and presentation. Because, well, frankly, what is performance if it's not delivery and presentation? But, sure. Pick a bloody term that you like. We started with "literary", which no one understood what it meant, I proposed Performance, but, apparently, that's not right. So, fine. You folks pick a term, give me the definition and we'll discuss that.

Because all this back and forth semantic :):):):):):):):) is a complete and utter waste of time. I explained the terms as I understood them. Can we at least pick words that you folks like and get back to the actual point instead of farting around with this?

Sheesh.
The issue isn't with the terms. It's with the application of those terms. There are portions of the game that are literary, and there are portions of the game that are performance. People are running afoul of things in trying to apply those terms too broadly. Performance is a type of delivery and presentation, but not all delivery and presentation is performance. Literary is written recording, but not all, or even most of an RPG is written. I don't think there is a term that is going to broadly apply here.
 

lowkey13

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
Literary is written recording, but not all, or even most of an RPG is written.
Just pointing out that if we had been using this definition from the beginning (literary as pertaining to or of the nature of books and writings, especially those classed as literature .... which is kind of tautological, but still), then I don't think there would have been any debate.

The written portions of RPGs can be literature, and the played portions cannot be, by definition.

Seems kind of pointless, but you'll have to ask the OP about that.*


(And yes, the issue would be with the terms used.)
 

Satyrn

Villager
Just pointing out that if we had been using this definition from the beginning (literary as pertaining to or of the nature of books and writings, especially those classed as literature .... which is kind of tautological, but still), then I don't think there would have been any debate.

The written portions of RPGs can be literature, and the played portions cannot be, by definition.

Seems kind of pointless, but you'll have to ask the OP about that.*


(And yes, the issue would be with the terms used.)
I'm assuming that the OP is using "literary" with its snobbish connotations. You know what I mean. "This thing I like is literary, therefore it is better than that other similar thing that you like, and I can provide reams of literature that purport to back my claim, but really it's all just opinion."
 

lowkey13

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
I'm assuming that the OP is using "literary" with its snobbish connotations. You know what I mean. "This thing I like is literary, therefore it is better than that other similar thing that you like, and I can provide reams of literature that purport to back my claim, but really it's all just opinion."
Based on my understanding of the history of this thread, and what spawned it, I believe the OP was using "literary" to mean "having a marked style intended to create a particular emotional effect" in order to argue that RPGs do not create "particular emotional effects" through the narration/performance of the DM or players.

But, again, I'm increasingly of the opinion that most of the debates are rather pointless, especially to the extent that they involve arguments over disputed definitions of terms and/or thinly-disguised "my way is better" assertions of playing.
 

Satyrn

Villager
Based on my understanding of the history of this thread, and what spawned it, I believe the OP was using "literary" to mean "having a marked style intended to create a particular emotional effect" in order to argue that RPGs do not create "particular emotional effects" through the narration/performance of the DM or players.
That's definitely a more charitable interpretation than mine. Now I feel like I was being mean. :(

But, again, I'm increasingly of the opinion that most of the debates are rather pointless, especially to the extent that they involve arguments over disputed definitions of terms and/or thinly-disguised "my way is better" assertions of playing.
Aye. I kinda wish that I had never discovered this General Tabletop Discussion forum. Because like Robert Plant "I can't quit you, baby" . . . and unfortunately I can't put it down for a while because I can't get enough satisfaction, I can't get enough RPG action in the D&D forum to hold my attention.
 

lowkey13

I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that.
Aye. I kinda wish that I had never discovered this General Tabletop Discussion forum. Because like Robert Plant "I can't quit you, baby" . . . and unfortunately I can't put it down for a while because I can't get enough satisfaction, I can't get enough RPG action in the D&D forum to hold my attention.

I vary; some days I look at the various threads arguing about increasing minutiae and offering up hypotheticals (no, really, what if the players DEMAND that they smell something and the DM INSISTS that there isn't a smell ... then was the fart dealt, or just smelt?) and I think, "Eh, please, make it stop. Make the stupidity stop."

Other days, I'm all, "Yeah, that's the good stuff. I want that mainlined directly into my veins, baby." So ... there are no innocents. ;)
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
To answer your question, I don't think objecting to an obviously distracting, annoying or disruptive GM narration style, means that performance is prime. Again, I've said I want the GM engaged, invested and speaking in their natural voice. That isn't performance. That is being your relaxed and honest self. Performance is the opposite of that. I don't need the GM to do voices for example for monsters or characters. I don't need the GM to 'act'.
You might not need it, but some of us do. Ideally the GM is giving as much portrayal and expression and voice to each of her NPCs as each player is to her character(s); of course some GMs are better at this than others and those that aren't any good at it are better off not trying. That said, a GM who can't act is in my view starting at a disadvantage over one who can.

If your definition of performance includes those thing, then I would say we have a disagreement over what is important. But yes, a GM talking in a silly voice when it isn't appropriate is going to be odd. Just like screaming in anger for no good reason is going to be odd. I don't think that is about performance as much as it is about being disruptive.
I'm not talking about "silly voice when it isn't appropriate" and I don't think anyone else is either. I'm talking about a) voice appropriate to the character whose words are being spoken and to a lesser extent b) voice appropriate to the scene being narrated or described e.g. the horror-scene example noted upthread.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
Clear enough, but it doesn't capture what I'm talking about, because - for instance - it renders ordinary conversation a species of performance.
That's because it is, most of the time.

And that's when you're just "being yourself". When you're trying to play a role (which is the very definition of acting) in a role-playing game then yes, it's all to some extent performance.

Bedrockgames said:
And I realize people are trying to load more concepts onto performance than just acting. But the fact is, if acting and literal performance are not important to me, I am not going to accept it as a term (especially when it is being positioned as 50% of play).
Denying the whole concept just because you don't like it seems a bit over-the-top somehow.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
I play mainly online as well too. But this is actually one of my pet peeves as a player. Let me imagine the character based on the information you give, don't waste times showing me pictures of what they might look like. I will take how I imagine an NPC any day over stock art from the internet.
Problem with that is, every person at the table is going to end up with a different mental image of what each character looks like. Better if the player - who in theory has final say on her own character's appearance - comes up with a mental image of that character then either finds something close to that image online or (if talent and skill allow) draws it herself. Then everyone has a common image to work from when picturing this character in whatever situation it's in at the time.

What is wrong with black and white line map art (particularly stuff by Dyson Logos)?

It is a game of imagination. I don't see why we need more than that to fuel the fun.
I agree that sometimes less can be more - give me a simple easy to read map any day over an artistic nightmare such as the maps in many DCCRPG modules, for example. But, at other times more can be more; and in this category I put character descriptions and-or images.
 

Lanefan

Victoria Rules
You seem to be setting up a contrast - performance intended to creata a mental image of who the PC is vs dice bot with a heart beat - that doesn't correspond to my own RPGing experiences.

Central to player-side RPGing is action declaration. That's how the player reveals who his/her PC is. Whereas being a dicebot suggests that someone else (perhaps the GM?) is deciding what the actions are.
Action declaration is but one avenue of revealing who a PC is, and by no means the primary one.

What mostly reveals who a PC is, at least in terms of how the other PCs perceive her, are the words she says and how she says them when interacting with the other PCs through direct roleplay*. This is where player performance comes in - a player or GM who puts some expression and-or voice talents into playing her PCs is ironclad guaranteed to give those characters more personality and memorability than a player or GM who roleplays every character the same (i.e. as herself) and relies on game mechanics to provide the differentiation between one and the next.

* - and it's on the GM to allow time at the table for this to happen, and not interrupt it when it does happen by jumping to the next scene or encounter before it has played out.
 

Hussar

Legend
Well said [MENTION=29398]Lanefan[/MENTION].

One of my biggest pet peeves is when one player turns to another at the table and says, "What race is your character again? Were you human or elf?" Because, to me, that just screams that the performance of that player is so flat and uninteresting that the fact that this character isn't even human isn't readily apparent at the table.

I'm not talking about someone simply forgetting. We all do that. I'm talking about the other three or four players at the table having zero idea what species the character is.

It drives me straight up the wall. Granted, it's a pet peeve, so, it bothers me more than it probably should, but, it does get to the heart of what we're talking about. The performance/presentation/whateverdahellyawannacallit is so flat and uninspired that folks at the table have zero idea what you are actually portraying.
 

Bedrockgames

Adventurer
Problem with that is, every person at the table is going to end up with a different mental image of what each character looks like. Better if the player - who in theory has final say on her own character's appearance - comes up with a mental image of that character then either finds something close to that image online or (if talent and skill allow) draws it herself. Then everyone has a common image to work from when picturing this character in whatever situation it's in at the time.
I couldn't disagree more. We don't all need the same mental image of everything in the game. If it is super important that your character has purple hair, then mention it a lot. But otherwise I vastly prefer a game where there is room for us to be imagining things differently. RPGs are not a visual medium. Showing me pictures of everything, is something I personally find takes away from the the experience.
 

Bedrockgames

Adventurer
I agree that sometimes less can be more - give me a simple easy to read map any day over an artistic nightmare such as the maps in many DCCRPG modules, for example. But, at other times more can be more; and in this category I put character descriptions and-or images.
And this is a fine preference to have. But it is just that: a preference. It isn't an essential aspect of roleplaying.
 

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