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Addressing a what?

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I was strongly opposed to theory for a long time.  Part of the reason is the opaque nature of some of the terminology, one reason I like Levi's straight-shooting approach to theory.  THe one I want to talk about in paticular is Narrativism.

For the longest time I couldn't figure out what that was about.  Well it has 'Narrative' right in there, so it's about telling a story, right?  Well no, say the theroyheads.  It's about addressing a premise.

Whating a what now?  That makes no sense to me.  What do you mean a premise, and what do you mean addressing it?  Well, they'd reply, it's about Story Now and dealing with social issues.  Still not getting it.  No idea how that could relate to RPGs. Social issues?  So you're pontificating to each other?  No, here read these huge dense essays on the forge.  Fuck that, if you're theory can't be summed up so the average gamer can figure out what you're on about, it isn't worth a shit.

Then Vincent, the dude who wrote Dogs in the Vineyard, finally explained it in plain english.  I'm an example kind of guy, so he came up with a good example.

Die Hard.  I've seen Die Hard, and what's more I could imagine an RPG where stuff like that happens.  One could say that one of John McClaine's essential traits is that he was Loyal, and in that movie his Loyalty gets put to the test.  Now that I can understand - my guy is Loyal, and we're going to see if he really is loyal.  Now we're getting somewhere.

So I could understand this now, and when my Buffy game started I thought I'd try it out.  I didn't tell my players "okay we're going to do this high falutin' theory thing because it'll make us feel smart", I just tried it to see if it made my game better.  Buffy kind of lends itself to this.  First the Qualities and Drawbacks provide some clear pictures to this.  I know that one character cares about her little sister.  I know that another is a hero on one hand and has a dark side on the other.  Second, its part of the genre.  In the show the monsters and challenges the cast faced were blatent symbols for the things teenagers go through in life.

Overall they were all a bit of the unlikely hero, so I chose that as my theme.  The game is asking the question "Can these people be heroes?"  It was an interesting question because some were self centered, others were misfits, and others still were slackers.

It has made for some phenomenal gaming.  One has at least partially fallen, another feels that the answer is clearly 'no, he can't be a hero'.  Another may fall yet.  What it has really done is made sure that the characters care about the events in the game.  They are personally invested, and the things going on are not merely the monster of the week but are really putting them to the test.

Like anything else, it isn't for everyone I'm sure.  And I don't think you have to devote the entire game to it - there's plenty of good old fashioned vamp bashing and roleplaying in the method actor vein.  (it's a group full of musicians and community theatre actors, so that's to be expected)  But it makes it all more important.  Even the most ardent hack and slasher will enjoy the fight that much more if they are fighting for something they care about.

So that's my serious theory thread for the night.  Feel free to comment or call me a navel-gazing fatbeard, as you like.  :D

I understand what you're saying, and given your group of playes maybe I understand why ya'all like that kind of game. I also think that, at least in in my case, most good games and campaigns I've been involved in have have done this to a greater or lesser degree. I just don't think we as the players have ever thought or talked about it in the way, or using the terminology that you describe. Part of the conflict our characters have dealt with has always been based on moral issues and our character's reactions to the moral conflicts that hasn't all been combat (I've played mostly DnD). IMO it's usually just part and parcel with RPing.

Technicolor Dreamcoat:
Hey... I actually understand that damn theory now! Cool.

I'm currently evolving a central premise for my D&D campaign. I'm playing the Dungeon Adventure Path, and I don't have actors in my troupe ;), and it took me a while to get a feel for the characters and the events as they're happening in the modules.

I've come up with the idea of "Neutrality" and whether that's a position that can actually be achieved and held. The PCs consist of a LG rogue turned  (LN) assassin, a NG wizard reborn as a kobold (and accepted into the local kobold tribe), a LN cleric of justice, a CN wild elf disliking the city the adventures are mostly set in, and a CN barbarian.

The story has progressed far enough that the road has come up to a fork, and the PCs must now choose the way to go. One by one, NPCs will proclaim their allegiance, while the PCs still want to try and sit everything out (after all, they don't care about the city, they're just looking for their parents – which of course gives us a secondary theme, namely living up to your ancestors by imitating them, or going your own way; all the PCs made carbon copies of their parents without me telling them to).

I've changed the adventures so that there are a lot more Shadow creatures in them; shadows and mirrors. The PCs are also able to activate bloodline powers, and it seems they're only the most recent incarnation of an ancient adventuring group, like their parents were before them.

They're getting to the point now where the PC's level of power enables them to go their own way free of most machinations and manipulations; I'm excited where it will go, especially since it seems like a schism is forming in the group (character-wise, not among the players, who dubbed this repeatedly the "best campaign ever").

I'm excited as hell to see how it'll all turn out, even though it'll take more than a year still until we're trhough (playing only once a month).

Here's something to mess up the minds of pseudo-intellectuals: Gygax did narrativism decades ago.

D&D's alignment system is actually a ham fisted attempt to have such issues.  Are you going to follow your alignment or  what's best for your character?


--- Quote from: Nicephorus ---Here's something to mess up the minds of pseudo-intellectuals: Gygax did narrativism decades ago.

D&D's alignment system is actually a ham fisted attempt to have such issues.  Are you going to follow your alignment or  what's best for your character?
--- End quote ---

Oh I'd agree with that.  Since alignment has been around since the first version of D&D (I believe) one could say that RPGs have always had elements where moral and social issues were meant to be dealt with in play, and indeed had mechanical effect.  Sure, it was a simple Law vs Chaos marker, but everything was simple at that point.


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