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Space and time in RPG setting and situation

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
Not that it would matter if it was!
Hah, no. What I wanted was to avoid going down that rabbit hole that many threads do where folks start slinging accusations about pimping their favorite game rather than honestly replying to the topic.

Back to the topic at hand, I think we could spend some interesting and profitable time unpacking exactly what might be meant by 'advocating consistency' in terms of different games and aims.
 

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pemerton

Legend
Hah, no. What I wanted was to avoid going down that rabbit hole that many threads do where folks start slinging accusations about pimping their favorite game rather than honestly replying to the topic.
Yep, I got what you were doing. I just wanted to use whatever authority I have as OP to authorise you to promote whatever game you want to, if you think it helps shed light on the thread premise.

Back to the topic at hand, I think we could spend some interesting and profitable time unpacking exactly what might be meant by 'advocating consistency' in terms of different games and aims.
One thought on this: leaving issues of space and time fairly relaxed - in the way that, say, many adventure films, comics and TV shows to - makes it unlikely that any literal inconsistencies are going to emerge.

Of course, this requires using resolution methods that don't depend on granular knowledge of in-fiction space and time. 4e is a version of D&D that illustrates how this can be done; many non-D&D games also illustrate possible approaches. One of my favourites for having non-granular space and time but still making place quite vibrant, and even time with deft use of Scene Distinctions, is MHRP/Cortex+ Heroic.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
One thought on this: leaving issues of space and time fairly relaxed - in the way that, say, many adventure films, comics and TV shows to - makes it unlikely that any literal inconsistencies are going to emerge.

Of course, this requires using resolution methods that don't depend on granular knowledge of in-fiction space and time. 4e is a version of D&D that illustrates how this can be done; many non-D&D games also illustrate possible approaches. One of my favourites for having non-granular space and time but still making place quite vibrant, and even time with deft use of Scene Distinctions, is MHRP/Cortex+ Heroic.
I think there's some issues of genre and system that move some knobs and dials here. Some games whether through expectations or mechanics (or both) mitigate for more rigid or specific treatments of space/time in-game. I think it's also the case that whatever conflict a game places at the forefront of play are more like to mitigate for more detailed treatment. I might call this the detail is the foreground approach to game comparison.

I think our general approaches are pretty similar of you last paragraph describes you default or common approach to this issue.
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
To expand on the above, I think a treatment of time/space in a given game is primarily a function of whatever kind of conflict is foregrounded and how the mechanics are designed to facilitate playing out that conflict. Mechanics perhaps drives this more in some instances than desired gameplay, but probably only in systems that have tighter built-in expectations about how space/time is framed and played out.
 

pemerton

Legend
I think a treatment of time/space in a given game is primarily a function of whatever kind of conflict is foregrounded and how the mechanics are designed to facilitate playing out that conflict.
I'm not sure how you're intending kind of conflict.

If you mean, by "kind", to differentiate different sorts of mechanical elements or structures, then I agree: wargame-type resolution treats time and space differently from (and in a more granular fashion than), say, scene-based resolution.

If you mean, by "kind", to differentiate genres or themes, then I think I disagree. I don't think there are particular genres or themes that require, when foregrounded in conflict, a granular treatment of space or time.

Perhaps I've missed your point?
 

Fenris-77

Small God of the Dozens
Supporter
So when I say 'kind of conflict' what I was indexing is that different games foreground different sorts of obstacles, challenges, and conflict. In many of those cases (combat in D&D being one easy example) the mechanics and design support that foregrounding with more nuance and detail and sometimes mechanical complexity. This obviously can look very different from game to game. In PbtA games the type of conflict that is supposed to be core is foregrounded by the choices of moves where you see some specific moves and usually a catch-all 'risky action' move - the specific moves are a clear design index to what kind of conflict is supposed to be core to the game. In D&D the additional mechanics and complexity for combat clearly indicate it's importance in terms of design. In a general sense those foregrounded types of conflict, the ones that are supposed to be front and center in terms of game play, tend to get more details, both mechanical and otherwise, and also tend to be the parts of the game that get more detailed rules in terms of granularity of time/space, although this is certainly not true of every example.

I'm very much not trying to categorize by genre here. Different games can try to capture the 'feel' of a genre in very different ways with very different levels of granularity and mechanical complexity, including treatments of time/space. If you wanted to say that this issue can be to some extent captured as a push-pull between wargame resolution and scene-based resolution I wouldn't argue though.
 

pemerton

Legend
@Fenris-77

I would say that, in your sense, MHRP (being a supers game) foregrounds physical combat/conflict in its resolution system. Although, notionally, all types of conflict are resolved the same, there are more powers and more SFX that deal with fisticuffs than with other sorts of conflict. (Meaning, as a result, that at least in my experience dice pools are noticeably smaller when social and emotional conflict is happening.)

But it is very relaxed about space and time which I think is one of its distinctive features, and in the context of the game a real strength. Scene Distinctions, instead, are what creates the sense of place.
 

aramis erak

Legend
I believe there will certainly be participants uncomfortable with shifting sands,[...]
Indeed there will be... Some of us want local setting to be relatively stable and well defined; others want the big picture stable, but don't mind undefined bits in the local context... of the 30 or so people I've run FFG's Star Wars for, only three were comfortable flipping destiny to "find the right tool" or "Have remembered item X after all..."
and the harm done to Character => Situation => Setting is oblique (only arises in theorycrafting.)
That harm is dependent upon playstyles; it's VERY real harm to immersion for some to use mechanical labels instead of character perception expressed in player-comfortable real world units. I'm one of those - abstracting to zones outside active combat? Breaks my immersion, both as player and as GM. (Moreover, those are two very different forms of immersion.
Setting truths have most likely already been established prior to character creation, in the forms already discussed elsewhere.
And yet, for certain games, setting truths are nebulous and subject to change with minimal notice. (EG: John Wick's Houses of the Blooded and Blood and Honor... any "risk" can change anything established in prior risks. B&H is a better samurai game than L5R... but L5R is easier to find suitable players for.)
The problem with abstract analysis is that many seem to forget there are multiple playstyles...
Me, I loved Blood and Honor... but then I got a player with no respect for the bounds of good taste and the "lines and veils" type agreement for the campaign. When every person can use others' characters without consent, respect is the single most essential element.

Oh, I think I know where this is going, and it isn't somewhere good...



So... people who really know games agree with you, but all those newbs don't! Basically, appeal to authority, which doesn't really give us anything interesting to think about.
His generalization, while not documentation, is something I've seen a lot, but I'm not certain it's as much experience based, but age based.

I know I and my wife both want more consistency of setting than we did in the mid 1990's. 25+ years have changed our expectations. And, sadly, also our capabilities, for maintaining continuity. It's hard to disentangle the gaming experience element from the older player element.
 

niklinna

satisfied?
To toss something in from out of nowhere:

There are cultures that reckon all movement directions and geography in absolute cardinal direcitons (NSEW). No left, right, forward, back. I think about how that might affect my ability to reckon space and it's kinda trippy.

Edit: Found a brief mention in wikipedia.
 

His generalization, while not documentation, is something I've seen a lot, but I'm not certain it's as much experience based, but age based.
There's nothing to generalize here, he is simply arrogant enough to think his opinions about RPGs are 'truths' and the rest of us are fools, put plainly.

I know I and my wife both want more consistency of setting than we did in the mid 1990's. 25+ years have changed our expectations. And, sadly, also our capabilities, for maintaining continuity. It's hard to disentangle the gaming experience element from the older player element.
I don't think this is a generalization that works either. IME a greater degree of experience with a wider variety of RPGs and types of play brings a greater understanding, acceptance, and enjoyment of more types of play.

And honestly, I don't think the core underlying idea here, that somehow the time at which stuff is made up decides if it is consistent or has a certain degree of verisimilitude, can be upheld.
 

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