What makes an TTRPG a "Narrative Game" (Daggerheart Discussion)

FrogReaver

As long as i get to be the frog
I doubt there is such a single thing as "pliering" which admits of degrees of effectiveness in respect of it.
You say you doubt a thing exists then the very next sentence you agree it exists. Makes conversation really hard.
My example was of the degree of utility of a plier for getting a stuck nail out of a bit of timber. And even if you can rank the utility of your plier, your hammer-claw and your magnet it doesn't follow that there are any number of other actual or possible tools whose utility could also be ranked so as to create a continuum.
Really? You don’t think you can make an infinite variety of different size and shape hammers? You don’t think you can do the same with pliers, etc?

And even if that were so, we wouldn't have a continuum of tools. We would have a continuum of tools of some utility for removing this nail from this bit of timber. Which is not a very analytically portable continuum.
Baby steps indeed.
And what possible basis is there for thinking that there is a continuum's worth of such tools?
because i can imagine them.
I mean, let's look at an actual goal - increasing rightward arrows (from clouds to boxes) - and an actual set of tools - the way 5e D&D combat is resolved. What feasible changes might be made to the procedure of D&D combat that would increase the number of rightward arrows?
No idea what arrows clouds and boxes are.
Before we start pontificating about hypothetical techniques serving hypothetical goals, let's address an actual design question that some RPGers are actually worried about.
I don’t agree. Part of the goal of hypotheticals is to analyze the theory. It’s not much of a theory if it isn’t applicable to hypotheticals. iMO.
 

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pemerton

Legend
Part of the goal of hypotheticals is to analyze the theory. It’s not much of a theory if it isn’t applicable to hypotheticals.
So I refute thermodynamics by imagining my hypothetical perpetual motion machine, I refute special relativity by imagining myself flying faster than light, and I refute universal gravitation by imagining an apple dropping a centimetre from its tree and then hovering in the air.

Or do the hypotheticals have to be regimented in some fashion?
 


pemerton

Legend
I sort of feel the analogies about wolverines and hammer have ceased to be useful in this instance, if they ever were.
Back to games, perhaps?
I mean, let's look at an actual goal - increasing rightward arrows (from clouds to boxes) - and an actual set of tools - the way 5e D&D combat is resolved. What feasible changes might be made to the procedure of D&D combat that would increase the number of rightward arrows?
As I already said, this is an actual issue that some actual RPGers are interested in. How would one go about addressing it?
 


pemerton

Legend
No idea what arrows clouds and boxes are.
From not that far upthread, in reply to you:
The point of Baker's boxes and clouds is to describe, for a particular system/procedure of play, the relationship between cues (like dice rolls, or charts, or PC sheets, or some mathematical operation) and imagined stuff ("the fiction"). (The "boxes" - dice - represent cues; the clouds represent imagined stuff.)

The basic idea of "fiction first" is to establish rightward arrows - ie from fiction to cues - rather than to have only leftward arrows, or recursive arrows from cues to cues. (Here is where Baker uses the analysis to diagnose why his system In A Wicked Age is experienced as unsatisfactory by some RPGers.)

An example of a recursive arrow from cues to cues is "Roll to hit." => dice are rolled, final to hit number calculated using appropriate mathematical procedure => "OK, as per the stat block the AC is <whatever> and so that hits. Roll damage." => dice are rolled, final damage result is calculated using appropriate mathematical procedure => "OK, I've subtracted that number from the hit point number. It's now equal to zero."

There was one leftward arrow there: when the GM said "so that hits", that is, the mechanical process requires us to imagine, as part of the fiction, the attacking character doing <something or other> to set back their foe.

The final bit, about the foe's hit points being reduced to zero, is also apt to prompt the GM to say "They're dead!" which generates another leftward arrow - as part of the shared fiction we are now all to imagine that this being is dead, killed by the attacking character.

D&D combat often includes quite a bit of this sort of thing - lots of recursive arrows from cues to cues, the occasional leftward arrow (some not very crisp in terms of the imagination they produce like, "that hits"), and few or no rightward arrows. (There was no rightward arrow in my example, but presumably one occurred prior to the instruction to roll to hit: the player saying "I attack the foe", which is an event in the fiction that prompts the call to roll the d20.)

(For the curious, I've just reiterated Baker's steps 2, 4, 5, 6 from his Resolution System #1 on the blog I linked to above.)

A fiction-first system tries to increase the ratio of (i)rightward arrows to (ii) leftward arrows and recursive arrows from cues-to-cues.
 

pemerton

Legend
I struggle to see how 4e really pushes hard toward narrativist play.
I know a lot of people talk about 4E as Narrativist (I know Ron does)
Just on this.

For nearly 15 years @Manbearcat and I (and others, but we've probably been the most consistent beaters of the drum on ENW) have been talking about 4e as a narrativist-facilitating RPG.

Naturally, we were interested when we learned that Edwards agreed.

It seems strange that there is still such scepticism about the proposition.
 

thefutilist

Adventurer
Just on this.

For nearly 15 years @Manbearcat and I (and others, but we've probably been the most consistent beaters of the drum on ENW) have been talking about 4e as a narrativist-facilitating RPG.

Naturally, we were interested when we learned that Edwards agreed.

It seems strange that there is still such scepticism about the proposition.
I’m not sceptical that it happened. Just surprised because the inertia of trad play and especially D&D play tends to override what a system is doing.

Although. This could very well be an artefact of the play culture I grew up with (White Wolf). I’m surprised (although less so) when people find N through Burning Wheel and Sorcerer. I mostly assume there needs to be a period of introspective de-conditioning to get N irregardless of system. For role-players anyway. Non role-players introduced to an N system can often do it casually and easily.
 

pemerton

Legend
I’m not sceptical that it happened. Just surprised because the inertia of trad play and especially D&D play tends to override what a system is doing.
Yeah, I was more using your post as a springboard.

In my case, I was a long-time Rolemaster GM who was intrigued by 4e precisely because of its narrativist promise. I was discussing these features of 4e - that were being revealed by WotC - in posts on these boards back in 2007 (I just did a search on "simulation" "pemerton" to confirm my earliest posts about this).
 

Just on this.

For nearly 15 years @Manbearcat and I (and others, but we've probably been the most consistent beaters of the drum on ENW) have been talking about 4e as a narrativist-facilitating RPG.

Naturally, we were interested when we learned that Edwards agreed.

It seems strange that there is still such scepticism about the proposition.

Yup. I mean. Edwards (the originator of the Narrativism essay) independently coming to the same conclusions that you and I did (I think he first read and played 4e like 2.5 years ago...I can't recall, I linked you the videos at the time) nearly 16 years ago is the killshot for the skepticism around 4e and Narrativism. The conversation should have been absolutely over at that point. I mean it should have been stone dead long ago...but it never will be. Because the veracity of the claim and the evidence bulwarking it was never the point and will never be the point.

I'll just quickly expand on what you wrote above that links 4e to Narrativist priorities and to its successful implementation as a vehicle for such priorities. If you see the following in a system, you're looking at Narrativist priorities and the means to that end:

* Theme and premise-based goals in the hands of the players and clearly encoded, transparent tools for the pursuit of it that are taken out from behind a GM screen and made table-facing; Player-authored Quests, "say yes," magic items in the hands of players, a conflict-rich setting and Class/Background/Theme/Paragon Path/Epic Destiny that directly indexes those conflicts, conflict procedures with transparent goals + evolving situation state that attends to those goals + Burning Wheel style Fail Forward + encoded resolution that isn't up for GM veto/mediation/effery.

* The advice to cut to the action and make the locus of play the conflict-charged, clear-stakes scene and then a game engine that does exactly that; Skip the gate guards and get to the fun + encounter as the site of play w/ vignettes (transition scenes) linking them and generating cascading follow-on play.

*
A game engine that trivially and reliably delivers duress (because the game engine is balanced such that the difficulty knobs work), crucible-type play where the things players are fighting for through their PCs in those first two bullet points can be denied to them and/or complicated merely as a matter of deftly applying and using system (therefore deriving that system's "say" in the matter).


If the game you're playing features an engine and GMing advice around the above ethos and techniques...you're playing a vessel that has, at minimum, systemitized a host of interlocking dynamics that just so happen (NO WAI?!) to hyper-functionally facilitate Narrativism.
 

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