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Old 10-15-2018, 06:01 PM   #11
Brandy
 
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Default Re: Drama, dice-rolls and Plot

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What does that even mean? Do I redefine what the PCs are doing? In any case, 'coherent narrative' does not mean a story. It just means it makes sense, and assuming players who actually play roles and think about what they're doing, you expect their actions to be coherent.
I don't want to speak for Mark, but I took it to mean that as players declare actions for their characters, the GM responds using the elements that the GM controls (the game world and its NPCs) in a way that is both logically consistent and also interesting.
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Old 10-15-2018, 06:27 PM   #12
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Now, imagine people doing those activities, only there's an adjacent street with passing traffic. The random noise from passing traffic is roughly the dice.
No, I'm sorry, that's stretching things further than I find plausible. RPGs don't have dice rolls made by random passersby at times unrelated to the flow of the narrative, and they don't produce completely random and arbitrary events. Rather, the dice come out when the narrative provides occasion, and especially when a player chooses to have their character do something that puts them at risk for the sake of a goal; and the outcomes are not purely random, but reflect the way the character's action might turn out in the context where it takes place.

For example, I lately had the players in Tapestry roll dice to determine how well their characters did on their long trade voyage to unknown shores. I had decided what the expected return was (a return equal to 10x their investment), and how much effect their rolls would have (10% adjustment per point of success or failure), and I had decided on more extreme effects for a critical success or failure. But a critical failure was not going to result in one of them losing a limb, or in a demon showing up and attacking their home port, or in their suddenly forgetting everything they had done for the previous eighteen months. None of those was remotely plausible in the context of "How much did we make from our voyage?" And conversely, if one of them got into a fight, and made a critical failure, they might throw their weapon away, or trip and fall down, but they wouldn't suddenly discover that two-thirds of their money had vanished from their purse.

It's just not random in the way you suggest.
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Old 10-15-2018, 06:41 PM   #13
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Default Re: Drama, dice-rolls and Plot

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No, I'm sorry, that's stretching things further than I find plausible. RPGs don't have dice rolls made by random passersby at times unrelated to the flow of the narrative, and they don't produce completely random and arbitrary events.
They don't? If the GM wants to have a contrast between doing a task on a busy street as opposed to on an empty one, they do.
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Old 10-15-2018, 06:42 PM   #14
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Default Re: Drama, dice-rolls and Plot

So, basic question here: why do you want to call RPGs storytelling?

Classifying RPGs a storytelling vs something else is basically a semantic dispute, but it's semantics with consequences. Specifically, it usually has one or more of the following purposes:
  1. Encouraging the use of methods developed for one thing to the other.
  2. Sharing of prestige.
My feeling is that methods intended for storytelling should be used carefully for RPGs, with an eye towards the differences, which encourages keeping a bit of separation, but I could possibly be persuaded otherwise.
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Old 10-15-2018, 06:48 PM   #15
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Default Re: Drama, dice-rolls and Plot

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Classifying RPGs a storytelling vs something else is basically a semantic dispute, but it's semantics with consequences. Specifically, it usually has one or more of the following purposes:
  1. Encouraging the use of methods developed for one thing to the other.
  2. Sharing of prestige.
My feeling is that methods intended for storytelling should be used carefully for RPGs, with an eye towards the differences, which encourages keeping a bit of separation, but I could possibly be persuaded otherwise.
I don't think it means either of those. I think it means that concepts that apply to novels, epics, ballads, movies, graphic novels, and so on can often be applied to RPG sessions, campaigns, and/or settings with illuminating results. Caution is needed in doing so, of course, just as caution is needed in applying the concept of a "wave" to electromagnetic radiation. But it can provide better understanding, and even guidance in running more effective RPG sessions/campaigns. That's what I've been using the analogy for for a long time now.

I've already said a lot of what I have to say about this in GURPS Adaptations, at more length than I can take here.
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Old 10-15-2018, 06:54 PM   #16
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They don't? If the GM wants to have a contrast between doing a task on a busy street as opposed to on an empty one, they do.
If the busy street exists in the game world, the passersby are probably not rolling dice. It's the GM who's rolling the dice. And the GM is already involved in carrying on the narrative of the session. A "random passerby" in this context would be someone who happened to wander into the game store, picked up a set of dice, and rolled them at random, with no correlation with the game events (just as traffic noise would have no correlation with the notes of a concerto or motet).

Of course the GM CAN roll dice purely at random, and have random stuff happen. But most GMs don't do that most of the time. Rolling the dice is a tool of running the session, not an arbitrary disruption of its flow of events.
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Old 10-15-2018, 07:00 PM   #17
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I don't think it means either of those. I think it means that concepts that apply to novels, epics, ballads, movies, graphic novels, and so on can often be applied to RPG sessions, campaigns, and/or settings with illuminating results. Caution is needed in doing so, of course, just as caution is needed in applying the concept of a "wave" to electromagnetic radiation.
That's roughly what I mean by (A), but you can accomplish the same thing by describing them as similar or related, with a more inherent caution that they aren't the same.
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Old 10-15-2018, 07:09 PM   #18
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Default Re: Drama, dice-rolls and Plot

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My feeling is that methods intended for storytelling should be used carefully for RPGs, with an eye towards the differences, which encourages keeping a bit of separation, but I could possibly be persuaded otherwise.
What do you mean by "methods intended for storytelling", I wonder?
It seems to me that some of the basic elements of a story are part of the essential framework of RPGs and couldn't be removed even if you wanted to: characters, setting, and conflict are certainly there. There also tends to be resolution, at least in terms of the end of a campaign or adventure, (and in my view most sessions should also have some kind of narrative resolution even if the session is part of a larger narrative structure.

So I'm wondering if what you're really talking about is plot.

In terms of plot, stories and RPGs are very different. Stories are constructed around their plot, which is known in advance of telling the story. The way I see it, the "plot" of an RPG is revealed in the telling. We don't know what it is going in, but looking back on what happened we can see what it was. I think that the narrative that emerges could be called a plot, but I would understand if you or anyone else didn't want to use that word for it. It's not plot in the same sense as a story.

As Mark alluded to earlier, as GMs we have the luxury of looking back on what happened in the moment and attaching significance to it that wasn't thought of or intended in the moment. Done poorly, this is retconning. Done well, it looks like foreshadowing -- another element of stories.

I will grant that some elements common to many stories are difficult to imagine being a part of an RPG. I seem to recall that Bill and I talked on one occasion about "theme". I like to have themes for my campaigns in mind because it helps me write; he said, if I recall correctly, that his games don't have anything in them that could be called a theme. And even though I use them to help me write, they really aren't part of the sessions and I doubt that my players even notice.

Symbolism is another story element that seems hard to me to include. I'm sure there are others.

So, for me at least, it's not about "wanting to call it storytelling" for some personal reason. It's just that I think that's what the hobby essentially is.
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Old 10-15-2018, 07:23 PM   #19
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That's roughly what I mean by (A), but you can accomplish the same thing by describing them as similar or related, with a more inherent caution that they aren't the same.
Yes, well, suppose, for example, that you have lived all your life on continent A, and all the sapient beings you've met have been Homo sapiens sapiens. And then you travel to continent B, and discover for the first time that there are beings there that look a lot like your kind, and carry on some kind of organized social existence and use tools and language and so on, but that also have striking differences and are not interfertile. You have the option of saying, "These are men of another kind," if you think the points where they resemble your species are of fundamental importance. And then you can define your species as one of the subtypes of "men." Or you have the option of saying, "These are not men, but are Xs, but men and Xs have a lot of things in kinds and both belong to this new larger category." And you would do that if you thought that some things about your species that Xs didn't share were really fundamental.

And to a large degree this reflects your estimate of what's important for your purposes.

I mean, for example, when Maxwell came up with the theory of electromagnetic radiation, a lot of physicists went too far in comparing it with acoustic radiation, or water waves, or other mechanical processes, and thought that there had to be a medium (the luminiferous ether) and that it was possible to go faster than light just as it was possible to go faster than sound and various other ideas that proved prolematic or misleading. But if physicists instead had outright rejected all analogies, the investigation of electromagnetism would have been seriously slowed, or maybe stalled. The use of analogies is fundamental to theoretical innovation; if you want to get the payoff you have to take some risks.
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Old 10-15-2018, 07:27 PM   #20
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Default Re: Drama, dice-rolls and Plot

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What do you mean by "methods intended for storytelling", I wonder?
It seems to me that some of the basic elements of a story are part of the essential framework of RPGs and couldn't be removed even if you wanted to: characters, setting, and conflict are certainly there.
Characters and setting are certainly present, though there is a tendency in stories to avoid irrelevant or extraneous characters and setting elements, and that's hard to do in RPGs while still giving the players freedom of action.
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There also tends to be resolution, at least in terms of the end of a campaign or adventure, (and in my view most sessions should also have some kind of narrative resolution even if the session is part of a larger narrative structure.

So I'm wondering if what you're really talking about is plot.
That's probably the big conflict, yes.
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