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Three Levels of Play

Mark

CreativeMountainGames.com
Joshua Dyal said:
Speaking of predicting outcomes, I think now that I understand your model better and what you're trying to do, it seems that players catching on and finding the game predictable is one of the greater dangers of engaging in the type of metatextual layers you're trying to incorporate.

How so? :)
 

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BSF

Explorer
Joshua Dyal said:
Speaking of predicting outcomes, I think now that I understand your model better and what you're trying to do, it seems that players catching on and finding the game predictable is one of the greater dangers of engaging in the type of metatextual layers you're trying to incorporate.

Actually, I think that the players figuring it out is the point. It is another layer that you can play the game on. It is quite possible for somebody to finally figure out the metatextual layer and have that gestalt moment. However, it won't necessarily spoil the game. You still want to play to see exactly what kind of spin has been placed on the "mytho-poetic" environment.

There is simply another layer of mystery that engages the player into the game in a different manner. It doesn't need to detract from the other two layers.
 

fusangite

First Post
Joshua Dyal says,

Speaking of predicting outcomes, I think now that I understand your model better and what you're trying to do, it seems that players catching on and finding the game predictable is one of the greater dangers of engaging in the type of metatextual layers you're trying to incorporate.

One doesn't "get" the whole model at once. A good comparison is a themed cryptic crossword puzzle; just because you have enough of an idea of the theme to fill in one word doesn't mean that the rest of the puzzle isn't worth doing. But you are correct insofar as mythopoetic worlds are designed to run one campaign, after which time, the world is as exhausted as the story arc.

A good mytho-poetic world is sufficiently complex that players it should be able to soak up a minimum of 300 hours of game play before it starts feeling predictable or old.
 

Well, this is a mighty interesting discussion. Better than a lot of what I have seen on these boards in a long time, and from what I can tell I think that I am certainly attracted to metatextual issues as someone who thinks about RPGs and fantasy when I am not playing them.

I certainly have no trouble with the idea that there are multiple levels of play and that they should all be recognized, engaged, and rewarded.

I cannot help but feel, however, that there is something missing from this model. Something that might provide flexibility to other styles of play and models of construction. I cannot, however, articulate what it is at this point, aside from saying that it seems to me that this model inadequately addresses the dramatic and ensemble aspects, or potential aspects, of play.

It may also have to do with my inherent distrust of Campbellian attempts to limit and construct myth.

What, by the way, is the reference for the seven angels of the seven eastern churches? I'm curious, I cannot place it as I can the other references.
 
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Desdichado

Adventurer
fusangite said:
One doesn't "get" the whole model at once. A good comparison is a themed cryptic crossword puzzle; just because you have enough of an idea of the theme to fill in one word doesn't mean that the rest of the puzzle isn't worth doing. But you are correct insofar as mythopoetic worlds are designed to run one campaign, after which time, the world is as exhausted as the story arc.

A good mytho-poetic world is sufficiently complex that players it should be able to soak up a minimum of 300 hours of game play before it starts feeling predictable or old.
Which means that the metatextual imprint has to be embedded really quite deep for the players to not catch on right away. By burying it so deep, you also run the risk that the players don't ever actually catch on.

Either way, it seems a tricky process to pull off -- potentially rewarding for the right group of players, but difficult nonetheless.
 

Desdichado

Adventurer
Dr. Strangemonkey said:
What, by the way, is the reference for the seven angels of the seven eastern churches? I'm curious, I cannot place it as I can the other references.
If I recall, that's from the book of Revelations. [flip, flip, flip] Yeah, here it is: The Revelation of St.John the Divine, chapter 1 verse 16 and then 20. (King James version)

16. And he had in his right hand seven stars: and out of his mouth went a sharp two-edged sword: and his countenance was as the sun shineth in his strength.
...
20. The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand, and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches: and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are the seven churches.
 

fusangite

First Post
Joshua Dyal says,

Which means that the metatextual imprint has to be embedded really quite deep for the players to not catch on right away. By burying it so deep, you also run the risk that the players don't ever actually catch on.

Either way, it seems a tricky process to pull off -- potentially rewarding for the right group of players, but difficult nonetheless.

Yep -- the risk that everyone will choose to play the game on the mechanical and textual levels is a very real one. In fact, the first such game I was in, I was introduced late into play and the GM was amazed that I actually got the rainbow bridge reference. He had just put it there for himself.

Which brings me to the most important thing I have to say as this thread winds down: I can, in no way, take credit for the theory of mytho-poetic construction and metatextual play of game worlds. The person who turned me onto this was Philip Freeman, the most brilliant person I have ever met.
 

ThoughtBubble

First Post
Ok. Just to see if I understand the basic concept. The metatextual component of the campaign would be the portion of the game that can be mapped on to a shared reference between the DM and players. The players can use this bank of shared knowledge to predict and understand the campaign world on a level as players, not just as characters within the world. As a DM it also has the advantage that, since the important elements have been planned in the reference, the world allready has a beginning set of scope.

That about right?
 

BSF

Explorer
I think it also provides a themed framework for challenges that you can throw at the party. See the metatext following a myth aspect in an above post. The Powerful dragon could literally be a story hook about fighting a dragon, stopping an invasion from the Serpent Isles or countering the violent rogue running the thieves guild named Manny the Viper.

You can create multiple story hooks that have the same theme, but are a different twist on the metatext reference.
 

Particle_Man

Explorer
4th wall down?

Quote:Originally Posted by Particle_Man

That said, does the metatextualness rely upon at least one player having read the same books as the DM? Because otherwise, except in some "big myth"/"big fact" cases like Norse myth and the planets, I don't see how players will get the correlations. For instance, I don't think any of my group would have gotten the whole Beowulf/Elementals thing. Does that happen a lot with metatext?

Fusangite:

It does sometimes. There are ways around it -- hinting at what the texts are, picking, as you suggest, accessible and recognizeable texts, not caring whether the players "get it"; if the game is in an alternate earth, you can always have the characters discover references to the texts you're using, if not, you can import your own versions of these stories into your campaign world and write your own variants on these myths or pieces of fiction.


Back to me: Does this mean that there is a chance that the characters (not just the players) could realize that the events in their world closely parallel the events of a text that the characters have stumbled across? This might lead to metaphysical questions from the characters (Why would the Gods plan out our lives like a story in a book?)

Just a thought...
 

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