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Author Topic: Telling a story versus presenting a situation.  (Read 4236 times)

GeekyBugle

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Re: Telling a story versus presenting a situation.
« Reply #150 on: November 22, 2021, 11:46:07 PM »
No... it does not. By Oxford: "a description of events and people that the writer or speaker has invented in order to entertain people"....

Your whole argument rests on conflating the word ‘Description’ with the definition of ‘story’. Thereby anything you happen to “describe” is a story.

Will the real Oxford definition of story please stand up?:

noun: Story; plural noun: stories
an account of imaginary or real people and events told for entertainment.”

Taken from google definitions which they get from: Oxford Languages.
Which if you click on the link it takes you to:
https://languages.oup.com/google-dictionary-en/

Which are the people who do the Oxford English dictionary…

But whatever; Account, Report, or Description; the result is the same.

Because:

While reports, accounts and descriptions are used in storytelling; Reports, accounts and descriptions are not stories on their own.

The word ‘story’ not being used in their definitions being an important hint:

noun: description; plural noun: descriptions
1.   1.
a spoken or written representation or account of a person, object, or event.
"people who had seen him were able to give a description"


RPG’s are a game, and a necessary part of the game is describing the actions of your character.

When telling a story you do use description to fill in the narrative.

But every time you describe something you are not always telling a story.

For example:

The description of PC actions:

GM: “The three Orcs attack Red-Lori with a furious charge!”

Player1: “Crap. I’m in the middle of casting the portal; Help!”

Player2: “Got this: I charge into them and use my multiple attacks to mow them down!”

GM: ”Good roll dude. Your damage? …Holy crap – you charged into them and chopped them up!”

That is not a story. It is just the Players and GM talking back and forth to each other describing actions and results as they play the game.

This is how a story is emergent from gameplay:

Player3: “Got my soda, what did I miss?

Player2: “The orcs were charging Red-Lori as she was casting the portal to take us out of the dungeon. Grognak the Slayer lived up to his name by charging into them and cutting them down with his axe grognir in a series of furious downright blows!”

That is a story. A really short one. But Jack and Jill wasn't exactly and involved tale either.

That is how descriptions of PC’s actions become a story, and how story is emergent from gameplay.


In the first part, no matter how much ‘narrative color’ you may add to it – you are not telling a story! You are merely describing your PC’s actions in the moment that they are happening.

In the second part you see the different descriptions of the actions made by the GM and the Players of what they did being put together into a single cohesive entertaining story.

Even Ron Edwards with his pseudo-intellectual Gameist/Narrativeist/Simulationist claptrap understood that RPG’s are not in and of themselves “storytelling games”.  That story is emergent from gameplay; not what you are doing while playing the game.

Hence his creation of explicit “storytelling games” – which share complete narrative control to actually create a story on the fly rather that a series of events, actions, and descriptions that only become a story in the retelling.

Even Ron Edwards understood that.



Yeah, it is weird how some people get hung up on terminology. I know whole groups of gamers that if you asked them what D&D is, they would all say that "D&D is a storygame"; or "D&D is a game where you create a character that exists in this fictional world where your character lives out stories in the game".
...

People get hung up on terminology because words have meaning.

You know people who refer to D&D/RPG’s as “storygame/s” because people use words wrong. As this thread is proof of.

And people have been using the word ‘story’ wrong since the beginning of the hobby.

Mainly because it is an easy/lazy way to imperfectly get across a flawed concept of what RPG’s do so that normies have something to mentally grab on to.

When you start saying: “Well it is like a wargame but one where you are playing an individual character like you would in a game of cowboys and Indians, but within a group of people where one acts like a referee…”

Normie: *eyes glaze over*

So people started saying: “A game where you get to be a badass fighter like Conan, but in your own series of stories.”

Normie: “Oh that sounds cool, Conan was badass. I could play a badass!”

Thus the Lazy and flawed has triumphed over the accurate and nuanced.

I thought owning someone was illegal in the west?

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SHARK

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Re: Telling a story versus presenting a situation.
« Reply #151 on: November 23, 2021, 12:46:46 AM »
Yeah, it is weird how some people get hung up on terminology. I know whole groups of gamers that if you asked them what D&D is, they would all say that "D&D is a storygame"; or "D&D is a game where you create a character that exists in this fictional world where your character lives out stories in the game".
...

People get hung up on terminology because words have meaning.

You know people who refer to D&D/RPG’s as “storygame/s” because people use words wrong. As this thread is proof of.

And people have been using the word ‘story’ wrong since the beginning of the hobby.

Mainly because it is an easy/lazy way to imperfectly get across a flawed concept of what RPG’s do so that normies have something to mentally grab on to.

When you start saying: “Well it is like a wargame but one where you are playing an individual character like you would in a game of cowboys and Indians, but within a group of people where one acts like a referee…”

Normie: *eyes glaze over*

So people started saying: “A game where you get to be a badass fighter like Conan, but in your own series of stories.”

Normie: “Oh that sounds cool, Conan was badass. I could play a badass!”

Thus the Lazy and flawed has triumphed over the accurate and nuanced.
[/quote]

Greetings!

Well, my friend, I understand that words have meaning. There is also colloquialisms, pedantry, and simply, different interpretations.

I have alluded to such in several of my earlier commentaries. There are "stories" within stories. D&D is a storytelling game. It's all about stories. It isn't *just* or *only* about stories, but stories are front and center. Stories and storytelling are interwoven throughout the game. Storytelling elements are critical to the game--that is why D&D isn't DungeonQuest, or DragonQuest--I forgot--some kind of boardgame. Or Monopoly, or Risk. There are boardgames that have dice, miniatures, and fighting. That is a game, bit there is no storytelling there. D&D is all about roleplaying, and storytelling. *shrugs* You might believe people "use the words wrong"--I would say, in this regard though--that people simply interpret the game--and storytelling--in different ways.

The whole Beginning-Middle-End framework that several here have quoted, for example. Yes, that is one interpretation of story, or storytelling, and it certainly does apply to written literature, like books, as Tenbones has argued. However, I think there are different interpretations, different nuances, aspects, and different ways to experience storytelling or "story" than solely in that form. Most especially when such is applied to an RPG like D&D.

And NO, not *everything in the world* is a story. I'm not saying that, either. However, much of what goes on in the D&D game is a kind of story.

The DM is involved with telling the players a kind of story about the campaign world.
Each of the Player Characters has a story--the events and relationships they have developed before joining the group, is a story.
There are major NPC's that each, too, have their own stories.
The group of Adventurers, once they join up together, have a "story". There is an ongoing story amongst themselves, as a group of people and relationships.
That Group Story is ongoing, but also separate from, and distinct, from whatever story is going on in the "ADVENTURE" that the group is going to go on this coming Saturday.
There are ongoing, constant stories between the different Player Characters and different NPC's in their lives--none of which have *concluded*, *climaxed* or *ended*.
All of these things are different kinds of stories. They all have a kind of *beginning*--but not necessarily a specific "Middle" and certainly no conclusion. That kind of formal structure is irrelevant.

Just like one of my English professors explained, "Our whole lives are about stories. All of us have stories about ourselves, our families, our friends, our different relationships" Human beings experience life through stories. Every major lesson or important thing, for the most part, is learned through, and experienced through storytelling, in some kind of form.

So, like I mentioned earlier, I suppose it is something that you "Get" or you don't. It just is what it is. I see stories and storytelling all through D&D. Apparently, lots of other gamers do as well, and always have.

What I don't understand is why is it so important that everyone thinks or interprets it in just one way? I see stories and storytelling throughout D&D. You, may not. Ok, so what? Why does that matter? Whether you believe I--or someone else, for that matter--is "using the words wrong"--ultimately, what real relevance does that have on playing and enjoying an RPG? And clearly, well, evidently there are many people that do not subscribe to YOUR INTERPRETATION of story, or storytelling, anymore than they evidently agree with my own. "D&D is a storytelling game! No it's not! Yes, it is! No, it's not! Yes, it is!"

Obviously, it isn't about one kind of interpretation. If it was such a clear and self-evidentiary issue, then there would be no basis for such different interpretations. And, gamers have been having these different definitions, different interpretations, long before Ron Edwards. Fuck Ron Edwards. ;D

Personally, I like Sandboxes. I'm not interested in Ron Edward's "Storytelling Games" in the slightest, and never have been. While I see D&D as a kind of storytelling game--it is a kind of game, it isn't a book or a film, and the DM is not the movies' Director, or Script Writer, or the Book's author. There is no "script" to follow, and players should not be railroaded down some stupid path to the DM's terrible attempt at writing some kind of fucking novel.

What makes D&D in particular and RPG's in general so unique and special--they are a form of collaborative, group storytelling that is anchored within a structure of game rules, and provided a loose framework of "Plot elements" by the DM.

That is the way I see D&D. That is the way I have experienced D&D. That's my interpretation, though.

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Lunamancer

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Re: Telling a story versus presenting a situation.
« Reply #152 on: November 23, 2021, 01:41:26 AM »
Will the real Oxford definition of story please stand up?:

You don't get to pick the definition.

It's okay to cherry pick the one that best suits you if you're using it as a data point to defend your own use of the word.  It has no probative value with regards to declaring someone else's use of the word is wrong. I'm not fond of cringe dictionary arguments to begin with. But if you find one that justifies your usage, even if that's all you got, I'm willing to have the grace to let the baby have their bottle.

But if the definition is also clearly applicable in context;
And if someone can point to examples of the word in common usage with the same meaning;
And the usage is still useful in that it conveys meaning and can articulate distinction;
If you have a dictionary definition and fulfill these three extra conditions, at that point it's pretty well verified. And anyone denying the usage of that word is most likely wrong.

Speaking for myself, I'm using story in a very disciplined way that hits all these points.
By the very points you're making, you're disqualifying yourself from each of these marks.

You can have your bottle, but you don't get to declare that I'm using the word incorrectly.

Quote
The description of PC actions:

GM: “The three Orcs attack Red-Lori with a furious charge!”

Player1: “Crap. I’m in the middle of casting the portal; Help!”

Player2: “Got this: I charge into them and use my multiple attacks to mow them down!”

GM: ”Good roll dude. Your damage? …Holy crap – you charged into them and chopped them up!”

That is not a story. It is just the Players and GM talking back and forth to each other describing actions and results as they play the game.

This is how a story is emergent from gameplay:

Player3: “Got my soda, what did I miss?

Player2: “The orcs were charging Red-Lori as she was casting the portal to take us out of the dungeon. Grognak the Slayer lived up to his name by charging into them and cutting them down in a series of furious downright blows!”

That is a story.

I think the key thing you're missing is the experience. The GM in your example must experience the story first in order to be able to relay it in the second example. And for me, reading the first example is a more exciting experience than reading the second example. If I were a player in the game, it would be an even more compelling story since I could better infer the motives of the orcs and other PCs from what happened in the game prior to this example, and also i would have near-perfect knowledge of my own character's motives.

Quote
Even Ron Edwards

In past threads when these semantic arguments over the meaning of "story" has come up, I've been known to say that I refuse to cede the linguistic ground of the word "story" to drunken old fart professors. This is the exactly one of the people I had in mind near the top of the list. So now I have to ask, why is it someone that you refer to twice as "even" Ron Edwards and who you call a pseudo-intellectual, why have you lowered yourself to that level? Use of arbitrary definitions for the sake of a model leading to linguistic confusion is his hallmark. I'm not going to use his definition of story. No thank you.

Quote
People get hung up on terminology because words have meaning.

If you feel that way, why are you only looking at the one definition of story? If it's not important enough to do more digging than that, then the hang ups are unjustified. If you're saying the hang ups are justified, then you need to do better, broader, more complete research on what words mean.

Quote
You know people who refer to D&D/RPG’s as “storygame/s” because people use words wrong. As this thread is proof of.

Maybe. But it's also possible people refer to D&D as a storygame because it's a game in which they experience a story when they play it. I would say the real fault lies in those who coined the term "storygame" to mean something distinct from D&D/RPGs when a regular person not hip to the hipsters is likely to connect the two. Or maybe they knew full well it would have that effect and it was kind of the point. Siphon off the audience.

I don't think it's a term worthy of any kind of reverence. I don't think it's necessarily a good term or an accurate term or a precise term or even a term that is remotely acknowledged outside a very small percentage of people. If you know the special meaning of the term and you're speaking with other people who know it, too, fine. Just understand it's not a real word that "means things" in the broader world.

Quote
And people have been using the word ‘story’ wrong since the beginning of the hobby.

Mainly because it is an easy/lazy way to imperfectly get across a flawed concept of what RPG’s do so that normies have something to mentally grab on to.

Maybe. Maybe millions of people over a period of several decades have been wrong. Or maybe it's just you and the 3 or 4 other people here, and the drunken old fart professor and his dozen or so holdout adherents, and maybe a few stragglers beyond that.

If I were to give an explanation of what D&D is using the word "story", it would be something like this:

"It's like a Conan story where you're the star, and the choices you make determines where the story goes."

Ain't no one going to respond to that with, "Huh? I don't get it. How can I determine where the story goes when a story has to be something that's already happened. How can I decide where something already happened went." Everyone will understand perfectly fine what I mean. Because it's a perfectly legitimate definition of story that every normal person understands.

estar

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Re: Telling a story versus presenting a situation.
« Reply #153 on: November 23, 2021, 11:33:04 AM »
Mainly because it is an easy/lazy way to imperfectly get across a flawed concept of what RPG’s do so that normies have something to mentally grab on to.
I have gotten some good results explaining that what I do as a referee is to create an experience. Specifically creating practical contact and interaction with facts or events with pen, paper, dice, and a RPG system.

With Adventures in Middle Earth I can't create a story for your  character about their adventures in Middle Earth, but I can do a reasonably fun job of creating the experience of adventuring as that character within Middle Earth with pen, paper, dice, and Adventures in Middle Earth. Mileage may vary whether that experience will be an interesting story to tell after it done.

Collaborative storytelling can be fun and can be a game but it not what I do nor what I am interested in doing.




Omega

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Re: Telling a story versus presenting a situation.
« Reply #154 on: November 24, 2021, 08:10:03 AM »
These half-page scroll debates are not even on topic.

Original post written another way is asking this: When playing or DMg a game, is it more important to use story pacing and beats OR present a situation, and see what people do about it?

This is asking for opinion, so there is no right or wrong.

But if someone asked me to play in their game, where they focus on story pacing and beats OVER simply playing things out in character, at whatever pace feels right…I would quickly decline their game and wish them luck. Smells like a game with theatre flunkies to me.

As I noted in my original post to this. Theres plenty of room for both.

But time and again we see story pacing and beats have a very high tendency to skew into a more restrictive play or stagger straight into railroading.

This is where the early Weiss and Hickman modules got it right and others later got it wrong. Dragonlance in particular takes the elements learned in making Ravenloft and its sequel and refined it into a pretty good synergy of regular playing things out - spiced up with timed events and the like. They are not railroads at all. At least not the early ones.

And often story beats are a part of world in motion sorts of DMing. If the PCs do not do something about some plot going on. Then that plot will go on. It might change a little if the PCs cross its path but do not interact directly. Or it might keep going on and never pay them any heed. The PCs and players might never know these plots and beats are going on till its too late.

A great example are modules where things will happen on a set timetable unless the PCs intervene. Like 1 hour after the start of play in game time an assassin will kill one of the guests in the building. But that can be prevented by various means.

The flip side are adventures where something WILL happen no matter what the PCs do. WW's Orpheus RPG has this as the kick off of book 2 and I really really disliked it as a GM and player. Somewhat mollified by the additional advice on what to do if that doesnt sit well and the GM would rather not totally ruin everything the PCs worked for and then toss gasoline and lit matches in for good measure. So points to the writers for realizing not everyones going to be thrilled with the proverbial no-win scenario.