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What Games do you think are Neotrad?

innerdude

Legend
I've written a few times before that I find it easiest to understand neotrad using the "Player-wants-to-be-Batman (and only Batman)" paradigm.

Neotrad assumes that players come to the game with a highly realized vision of what they want the character to be (i.e., Batman), both mechanically and in view of the character's place within the game world. The game should support the character's traits and in-fiction positioning from the start. If the character progression rules make it such that the character is not fully realized out of the gate (e.g., at level 1), then the game and/or GM should plan a rapid-scale escalation of progression to get the character to a state where the player gets to fully realize the concept.

Challenges should be grounded in the interests and proclivities and built-in narrative hooks of the character. This is where neotrad differs significantly from vanilla "Story Now" / narrative-driven play. In Story Now / narrative play, challenges are not grounded in the character interests and proclivities. They're grounded in an assumed premise of exploration -- "We're exploring what it means to try to find human connection in a shattered apocalyptic world" (i.e., Apocalypse World), or "We're exploring what it means to test the will and drive and personal honor of an individual committed to improving the plight of the hardship-stricken" (i.e., Ironsworn).

Whereas in neotrad the GM would say, "We're exploring Batman's relationship to Raz Al Ghul, and maybe exploring how being an orphan made him lonely, and testing how kick-ass his combat training is." There may be thematic premises in the mix here, but they're entirely grounded on and viewed through the character's persona.

In both cases there's a strong sense of character, but in neotrad the GM's focus is specifically on the character as envisioned by the player, whereas in vanilla Story Now narrative play, the focus is on the character as a vehicle for exploring the stated premise.

Neotrad play will fall down if the GM's focus shifts from character as envisioned by the player.

Neotrad does expect challenges to arise, but at no point should the result of those challenges end up with the player's vision for the character derailed. Fail states can include death, if agreed upon by the players and GM, but cannot include things like level drain, stat reductions, mind control, loss of gear, etc. The character can fail at his or her objective, but it is paramount that the GM not remove the player's ability to "be Batman."

*Edit: What neotrad has in common with vanilla Story Now narrative play is that the GM's mindset is expected move away from the gameworld-as-a-place-to-explore-for-the-sake-of-exploration.

In neotrad, the gameworld exists as a vehicle for the characters to display their most important traits and sensibilities in relationship to the shared fiction. Players expect the GM to put their characters into situations where their innate traits and qualities will be highlighted and pronounced.

Situations or encounters that happen "just because the simulated game world tells us this is so" are okay in small doses in neotrad play, but should not be the main focus. Focus is on the characters, what they're doing, and how what they're doing brings the character into full realization of concept.
 
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thefutilist

Adventurer
To further innerdude’s point. There’s a whole load of play that’s similar but for genre. As long as we stay within the genre we’re doing it right. I think both types of play find their enjoyment in looking at how X, X is.

So Batman does some particularly Batman things and everyone goes ‘awesome, Batman would really be doing those type of things and you did it in a very cool way.’

This does include value judgements about the world implicit in the emulated fiction. Batman doesn’t kill and what’s more, if the consequences of him killing or not actually come up in play as a question to be actually answered, then you’re messing with the integrity of the fiction

This was the final boss for me in understanding Narrativist play but I’d also have never moved to a Narrativist style if I didn’t finally get the kind of genre play I’d been after.
 

pawsplay

Hero
Well, "Chekhov's gun" applied to mechanics isn't good advice for purist-for-system design or play, and nor is assymetric gameplay.

It's implicit in every game system, from OD&D to the latest craze. Is there ANY reason a player new to D&D and its conventions would buy a silver dagger, if it weren't on the equipment list, suggesting its utility? Does the presentation of lyncanthropes in D&D make any sense, if there isn't a presumption silvered weapons exist and PCs might have them?
 


pemerton

Legend
It's implicit in every game system, from OD&D to the latest craze. Is there ANY reason a player new to D&D and its conventions would buy a silver dagger, if it weren't on the equipment list, suggesting its utility? Does the presentation of lyncanthropes in D&D make any sense, if there isn't a presumption silvered weapons exist and PCs might have them?
Here is the point that the blog makes:

  • Chekhov’s gun. “If you have a pistol, then it should be fired” it means that mechanics should not appear just to give unlikely options or false promises. Once a rule has been designed, there should be a fair probability that it comes into play in every session. In this way, players can be sure that everything they learned is useful and the GM has not to memorize useless rules. This is also true for the character sheet, it should report only skills or traits that are effectively used by players.

In other words, it's not a point about story elements and structure; it's a point about mechanics.

And in purist-for-system design, this is not implicit. These games have resolution systems/sub-systems, and elements on the PC sheet, that are not regularly used but are there for a type of "completeness". For instance, in RM you have to work out your PC's hand, foot and head size even though this rarely comes up; there are distinct rules for resolving all sorts of actions that might only come up once in a blue moon of play.
 

pemerton

Legend
Challenges should be grounded in the interests and proclivities and built-in narrative hooks of the character. This is where neotrad differs significantly from vanilla "Story Now" / narrative-driven play. In Story Now / narrative play, challenges are not grounded in the character interests and proclivities. They're grounded in an assumed premise of exploration -- "We're exploring what it means to try to find human connection in a shattered apocalyptic world" (i.e., Apocalypse World), or "We're exploring what it means to test the will and drive and personal honor of an individual committed to improving the plight of the hardship-stricken" (i.e., Ironsworn).

Whereas in neotrad the GM would say, "We're exploring Batman's relationship to Raz Al Ghul, and maybe exploring how being an orphan made him lonely, and testing how kick-ass his combat training is." There may be thematic premises in the mix here, but they're entirely grounded on and viewed through the character's persona.
I think you might be overstating this. Burning Wheel is clearly story now, not neotrad, for the reason you go on to give:

Neotrad does expect challenges to arise, but at no point should the result of those challenges end up with the player's vision for the character derailed.
This sort of "derailing" is expected in BW. Even though it uses relationships, personal interests and proclivities, etc - what the rulebook calls "player-determined priorities" - to establish theme, stakes etc.

I think DitV is probably closer to BW than AW in this respect too. In A Wicked Age definitely is.

What neotrad has in common with vanilla Story Now narrative play is that the GM's mindset is expected move away from the gameworld-as-a-place-to-explore-for-the-sake-of-exploration.

In neotrad, the gameworld exists as a vehicle for the characters to display their most important traits and sensibilities in relationship to the shared fiction. Players expect the GM to put their characters into situations where their innate traits and qualities will be highlighted and pronounced.

Situations or encounters that happen "just because the simulated game world tells us this is so" are okay in small doses in neotrad play, but should not be the main focus. Focus is on the characters, what they're doing, and how what they're doing brings the character into full realization of concept.
Yes. I made a version of this point not far upthread, using the Forge lexicon.
 

gorice

Hero
In neotrad, the gameworld exists as a vehicle for the characters to display their most important traits and sensibilities in relationship to the shared fiction. Players expect the GM to put their characters into situations where their innate traits and qualities will be highlighted and pronounced.
I think might be compatible with neotrad if it means 'player railroading', but not if the arcs are looser and work more like flags -- characters are not static bundles of traits to be expressed if the game is premised on the idea of those traits being challenged. In the latter case (which is what I read as being @GobHag 's preference), games that are built to provide flags or challenges ('story now', if you like) might be exactly what a person wants.

Here is the point that the blog makes:

  • Chekhov’s gun. “If you have a pistol, then it should be fired” it means that mechanics should not appear just to give unlikely options or false promises. Once a rule has been designed, there should be a fair probability that it comes into play in every session. In this way, players can be sure that everything they learned is useful and the GM has not to memorize useless rules. This is also true for the character sheet, it should report only skills or traits that are effectively used by players.

In other words, it's not a point about story elements and structure; it's a point about mechanics.

And in purist-for-system design, this is not implicit. These games have resolution systems/sub-systems, and elements on the PC sheet, that are not regularly used but are there for a type of "completeness". For instance, in RM you have to work out your PC's hand, foot and head size even though this rarely comes up; there are distinct rules for resolving all sorts of actions that might only come up once in a blue moon of play.
Truly excessive detail is simply bad design, in my opinion. OTOH, I reject the premise that particular mechanics, taken in isolation, must suggest a certain purpose of play. I want both story, now, and simulation-y resolution systems, sometimes simultaneously.

Arguing on the internet is a bad habit, and I should have retired a while back, but I really don't like it when people ask questions and get bad advice. Do people really think that someone who posts a thread asking how to develop play in the style of Fabula Ultima should be directed to go play, I dunno, 3e D&D or GURPS? Dogma is getting in the way of good and actionable advice.
 

I've written a few times before that I find it easiest to understand neotrad using the "Player-wants-to-be-Batman (and only Batman)" paradigm.

Neotrad assumes that players come to the game with a highly realized vision of what they want the character to be (i.e., Batman), both mechanically and in view of the character's place within the game world. The game should support the character's traits and in-fiction positioning from the start. If the character progression rules make it such that the character is not fully realized out of the gate (e.g., at level 1), then the game and/or GM should plan a rapid-scale escalation of progression to get the character to a state where the player gets to fully realize the concept.

Challenges should be grounded in the interests and proclivities and built-in narrative hooks of the character. This is where neotrad differs significantly from vanilla "Story Now" / narrative-driven play. In Story Now / narrative play, challenges are not grounded in the character interests and proclivities. They're grounded in an assumed premise of exploration -- "We're exploring what it means to try to find human connection in a shattered apocalyptic world" (i.e., Apocalypse World), or "We're exploring what it means to test the will and drive and personal honor of an individual committed to improving the plight of the hardship-stricken" (i.e., Ironsworn).

Whereas in neotrad the GM would say, "We're exploring Batman's relationship to Raz Al Ghul, and maybe exploring how being an orphan made him lonely, and testing how kick-ass his combat training is." There may be thematic premises in the mix here, but they're entirely grounded on and viewed through the character's persona.

In both cases there's a strong sense of character, but in neotrad the GM's focus is specifically on the character as envisioned by the player, whereas in vanilla Story Now narrative play, the focus is on the character as a vehicle for exploring the stated premise.

Neotrad play will fall down if the GM's focus shifts from character as envisioned by the player.

Neotrad does expect challenges to arise, but at no point should the result of those challenges end up with the player's vision for the character derailed. Fail states can include death, if agreed upon by the players and GM, but cannot include things like level drain, stat reductions, mind control, loss of gear, etc. The character can fail at his or her objective, but it is paramount that the GM not remove the player's ability to "be Batman."

*Edit: What neotrad has in common with vanilla Story Now narrative play is that the GM's mindset is expected move away from the gameworld-as-a-place-to-explore-for-the-sake-of-exploration.

In neotrad, the gameworld exists as a vehicle for the characters to display their most important traits and sensibilities in relationship to the shared fiction. Players expect the GM to put their characters into situations where their innate traits and qualities will be highlighted and pronounced.

Situations or encounters that happen "just because the simulated game world tells us this is so" are okay in small doses in neotrad play, but should not be the main focus. Focus is on the characters, what they're doing, and how what they're doing brings the character into full realization of concept.
One way to look at it MIGHT be that in Neo-Trad play the character is imposed on the premise and on the setting. In Narrativist play the premise is imposed on the setting and character, and in Trad/Classic play the setting is imposed on the premise and character.
 

Thomas Shey

Legend
Arguing on the internet is a bad habit, and I should have retired a while back, but I really don't like it when people ask questions and get bad advice. Do people really think that someone who posts a thread asking how to develop play in the style of Fabula Ultima should be directed to go play, I dunno, 3e D&D or GURPS? Dogma is getting in the way of good and actionable advice.

I don't think Hero is neotrad per se, but I think it absolutely has all the tools to be used that way, without much that would automatically pull away from that.
 

pawsplay

Hero
Here is the point that the blog makes:

  • Chekhov’s gun. “If you have a pistol, then it should be fired” it means that mechanics should not appear just to give unlikely options or false promises. Once a rule has been designed, there should be a fair probability that it comes into play in every session. In this way, players can be sure that everything they learned is useful and the GM has not to memorize useless rules. This is also true for the character sheet, it should report only skills or traits that are effectively used by players.

In other words, it's not a point about story elements and structure; it's a point about mechanics.

Which is exactly what I was talking about.

And in purist-for-system design, this is not implicit. These games have resolution systems/sub-systems, and elements on the PC sheet, that are not regularly used but are there for a type of "completeness". For instance, in RM you have to work out your PC's hand, foot and head size even though this rarely comes up; there are distinct rules for resolving all sorts of actions that might only come up once in a blue moon of play.

So presuming the mechanics for silver weapons aren't simply superfluous, they signal that in play, one thing you might use is a silver dagger to fight certain foes.
 

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