"A new thread" [RPG meta]

This is an off-spin from this thread

Consider it done. It's very late - moving toward very early - so I'll be brief for now, especially as my head is already spinning from rambling elsewhere (curse you Dickens!).

I acknowledge that a Killer DM can be much more than one that simply kills the player characters or restrict them through partisan rule formulation and moderation, and that if the term covers nay-saying SG in general then you don't need rules at all to possibly have a Killer DM.... BUT, talking of the styles/paradigms of roleplaying (or creative agenda as some has labelled it) is much much broader. I mentioned gamism in an earlier post, but gamism do not neccesitate the use of dice to be gamism and isnt limited to dice-using systems, but it is about competition - and if you have playing style including very strong rivalry between players and SG and if the SG is overly dominating, then I would say that said troupe does practice a measure of gamism (whether competition is in the realm of rules or not). On the other hand you could also have a group playing stories with characters in stark opposition and competition, but the players do not compete and thus it is not gamism per se. Gamism is defined as competion between the people who play togeteher; and I disagree that it rests on purpose or will - in fact the motive for a lot of rpg theory is to make roleplayers aware of things they are unaware of and that this awareness makes roleplaying more fun and less potentially stressfull (such as from mutual ruined expectations).

Also, on a different note, claiming that KDMs can be found in all sstyles of roleplaying disregards the fact that some roleplaying styles do not even have a DM!

Anyways - I wanted to post some links to various interesting and influental articles on roleplaying theory, but the website in question isnt working at the moment even though I was there a few hours ago. Some roleplaying theory can also be found on wikipedia, but it's only in condensed form and I'd rather link to the main sources.

But for now I can at least point to this old meta-thread I started on the forum (which btw also links to an introductory article on rpg-theory) on The games we play.., which actually never took much flight.

EDIT: The Forge is back up! This article goes in depth with the style of gamism version of roleplaying, as well as articles on the two remaing modes of roleplaying: simulationism and narrativism. Those three are broad modes of roleplaying - and most troupes probably draw on them all but in varying degrees. But a more full introduction to roleplaying theory can be found here and it is probably the best place to start. Many people participate in discussing these theories (and they've been adopted and changed over the years), but one of the most influental debatters is Ron Edwards - and he actually mentions Atlas Games' Over the Edge as one of his major inspirations.

This will take some thought. I will mentelate on it overnight. I will edit over this post tomorrow :slight_smile:



Hahahahahaha! :stuck_out_tongue:

And you thought ~I~ was long winded!


Yeah, cogimatate. That. :wink:

Mark seems to have a slightly higher stamina than you, Cuchu. You both have the long winded virtue for sure, though!!



:wink: :laughing:

We have been thru the same training regimen. I could tell when he tossed out "synecdoche" without blinking - it's like a secret handshake. 8)

(And I can do that, I just don't presume to do so on the boards very often. You're welcome.) :wink:

LOL, that went right over my head. I am long winded (long worded?), I'll grant you that. My training comes from the Berklist. As far as secret handshakes go, I honestly don't know what synecdoche is or where I may have tossed it out without blinking. I'll take your word for it though. What do you mean though?


Wow, sweet links, Jeppe! I have a ton of stuff to read up on rpg theory. GNS theory? Whew! I read a quick article on D&D not the end-all-be-all of the birth of the rpg and the glossary is just beyond-the-beyonds. lol Synecdoche was a listed term, but darn if I can figure out from the definition. :slight_smile:

I am loving 'The Forge's' discussion forums. One independent designer is discussing a narrative-based rpg called 'Muse' that is getting favorable responses. And I've tinkered around with notes on a system for play in the 20th and 21st centuries - "Mythic [Mundane] Earth" of sorts. :wink:

I luckily stumbled across a 1st edition of Tweet's "Everway" so I am impressed to see the fortune-karma-drama mechanics/engines mentioned. And 'Over the Edge' as well? It's sitting on a friends shelf so I'll have to take a quick study. Anybody have any cool links or a list/review of important trend-setting rpgs these past ten years? And by trend, of course, I'm talking more mechanic and word-of-mouth then commercial sales like D&D 3.81 (isn't that what they're up to now? - :wink: )

I'll be reading for days. I look forward to 'The Forge's' reviews section to get back up-to-speed. So, back to the finer points between a narrative and a simulationist-based system. o...O :laughing:

I simply do not follow the exchange between CH and Marko (I even suspect, handshakes asides, that they might not even themselves), but the only bit I could decipher was synecdoche - though I'm not sure in what context CH is using it.

Synecdoche is an old linguistic and philosophical phenomenon - with several faces to the coin it is basically about the relation between the whole of something and a part of it. Some metaphors make use of it, and examples of synecdoche could be how we speak of 'mouths to feed' when in fact talking of a number of people to be fed. I'm not sure that this is also used in English, but in Danish we have this peculiar way of talking of 'noses' rather than people - for example the invitation to a socializing dinner of collegues and their wifes/husbands might say that the dinner will be 99,- Danish Crowns (our currency) 'per nose'. An example in latin might be something like the phrase "ex ungue leonem" which exactly translated means "from the claw the lion" but it is term for how we may from a part judge the whole. "Ex pede Herculem is another example: You may judge of Hercules by his foot; the whole by the part (with the double connotation that this foot weren't just used to describe Hercules,it was also the measurent of ancient olympic stadiums).

Synecdoche is used within RPG theory - at least by Ron Edwards - as the potential danger of not only describing but confusing the part with the whole. This goes for people familiar with RPG theory as well as those who are not:

As for the latter he says that players who are not familiar with RPG theory AND who haven't player or encountered different kinds of roleplaying sometimes have an overly narrow definition of roleplaying, hinging it on elements that might only exist within certain genres, and ignoring that roleplaying might be a lot of other things also.

As for the former he states that "[s]ynecdoche may be committed by someone who has recently or imperfectly learned some GNS vocabulary, who in his enthusiasm is disrespectful to modes of play besides his favorite. However, it is also tremendously widespread among those role-players who do not know, or even who disparage, a critical approach to the activity, but commit synecdoche using terms like "realistic" or "story." In either case, this fallacy is disastrous. It results in bad feelings, fizzled games, and rejection of role-playing."

CH - I don't know in what regard you used the word, but my guess is that you're speaking of Ron Edward (using synecdoche) and that some confused your secret handshake comment to be about Marko?

In any case I brought this entire explanation just to decipher the talk of handshakes and synecdoche, but also because it is actually an interesting point when just about to set out on delving into RPG theory. I'll gladly admit that even if I've often lapsed into speaking of RPG meta, I am in fact only a newbie 'apprentice' in this field - I've only read a little bit on the subject, but what I read have really had my thoughts in twists and turns. Basically I've philosophied on meta much more than read about it - and I'll try to make it my determination to read more on it before philosophing more on it. Finding my own thoughts and answers is important stuff, but ignoring the huge work and effort made by others is pointless.

On the case of synecdoche, I try not to step in the trap Edwards speaks of - even if I know I only know little RPG theory I make an effort to present it in a way that is respectfull toward other peoples' gaming preferences.

I'm really glad you liked them! As I've already stated I really should get around reading more of it myself. I readily admit that though I have an interest I really haven't read any of discussions on the forum there - I've been sticking to the articles (and still got a long way to go). But the ideas that have already sunk into my thick skull have left an impression. I know opinions on RPG theory are divided. Ranging from indifference, to thinking it's boring, useless or too academic, to finding it destructive or alienating. And RPG theory certainly use deconstruction as an analytical tool - and I suspect that if not understood in its right context deconstruction might provoke some passionate players as being destructive rather than analytical.

Beside generic curiosity and interest some of RPG theorist also state that their motivations to explore this field has been to give roleplayers better tools to not only make roleplaying as fun as possible (such as with a "where's the fun"-apporach) but more than anything to address dysfunctional roleplaying. Now, dysfunctional is a very strong word, but let me elaborate: dysfunctional is not meant as being anything rude and can simply be defined as "role-playing which is not fun" and the assumption that un-fun role-playing is worse than no role-playing. What does RPG theory then offer? It offers roleplayers a more precise language to express what they think is fun, and because roleplaying is such a wide cathegory those who do it might sometimes speak very different 'languages'. And clearer communication as well as clearere strategies when planning or playing roleplaying, should hopefully make it easier to achieve the end goal of roleplaying - to have fun! :smiley:

The problem is that without clear concepts and terms discussions that are basically just about preferences can turn into discussion about having to adhere to 'correct roleplaying' (that's synecdoche for yer'). Such discussion do nothing in favour of improving your fun; it can be destructive to a group (I readily admit having experienced it myself to varying degrees) and lead to players becoming"simultaneously devoted to and miserable in their hobby". I would even claim that at times, even if we all pay lipservice to the YMMV-doctrine, when things get a little bit heated on this forum, then it is almost always about being both very passionate about the hobby but also at times of heated debate to somewhat confuse preference with 'correct roleplaying'. It can escalate a disagreement when people feel their 'mileage' being questioned. Luckily this is very often - but I do think that it's almost always about misunderstandings and about this mix of preference and correct roleplaying (intellectually acknowledging YMMV is much easier than tackling flak emotionally).

Stella - it sounds as if you already had an interest in RPG theory? Have you used/read the Forge before? One might actually ask why I insist on bringing the topic of theory on this forum instead of getting involved on the Forge - the answer is simply that even though I play many genres and systems, Ars Magica is still the game to me. I love and cherish it and I want to debate with people sharing that commonality - and I'm very curious about how different troupes play the game. Often the issues of debate here are about rules moderation, the setting or plot ideas, but seldomly does it touch about how the various troupe play - and taking a 'picture' of interaction is very hard so no wonder! I was thinking however, with relation to your comment on the review section of the Forge, that those reviews are mainly reviews of indie games or the odd review of the D&D 'granddad' of the industry and that I'm not sure the review section will come up to speed on mainstream games. Indie games are interesting, especially as an inspiration, but I'm thinking that it could be very interesting to make a review of Ars Magica.... Maybe we could set ourself to that task? As a challenge. And making a review would also work as a great way to get under the skin of RPG theory and at the same time debate it. I'm not saying that we should do it right here and now - but that we could move toward over a span of time. Anyone in?

Darn, got carried away and tossed more than my two pawns of vis into the mix. I also wanted to write a bit about the so-called 'Danish/Nordic scenario tradition' but I'll postpone that (I've also got some other threads to create or respond to).

[EDIT: Speaking of dysfunctional roleplaying the last section on this website is very informative]

'eh, I gotcher metonymy right heah! Booyah, baby!

Extra Credit Pop Quiz
Compare and contrast synecdoche and synonymy in 25 words or less. Be specific. Cite examples. Your time starts... now.

You are correct, you do not, since there was no exchange between us. At least, not from my end. I was responding to the lengthy RPG theory posts that you linked to, the topic of this thread, not MM's post - thus the "long winded" remark. I can't explain how he spun that into a comment on his own one-line post.

As for the "synechdoche", the clue was that RE "tossed it out" and MM didn't. I was suggesting that the use of the term is "a secret handshake" by folk who have endured what I suspect are a shared background - university level (or post grad) literary critical theory, as that is one of the only contexts where one is likely to become acquainted with that word (and a strikingly high-browed choice considering the likely audience for his commentary - but then again, you and I got it.)

(And yes, I wasn't throwing it out randomly as a commentary to MM - a commentary too obscure for me to even guess at.)

(I've heard of "noses" being counted in American English, but it's not often heard - (and possibly I only remember hearing it because my great grandparents were German?). "Heads" is the default.)

Deconstruction is often received poorly by a significant portion of respondents in almost every field - including deconstructionalist theory! I remember bouncing off of it heavily until I understood it a bit, which took a while. If nothing else, lots of folk don't like to think too heavily about something they view as an escape from having to think heavily! Whether reading a good book or watching a movie or role playing, anyone bright enough to understand the theory can find it unproductive to be given the tools to think about the past time they have chosen for relaxation and escape - if only because a bright mind tends to use the tools at its disposal, even to spite oneself.

My chosen platitude is "There are 101 ways to role play, and every one is right - just not right for everyone." But despite that, I know that I can sometimes seem very elitist in my preferred playstyle (whether I ~am~ or not I won't defend here.) I have strong opinions and preferences, and often have thought about "why" I have those as opposed to others, hence I can present what I see as "pros" over "cons" readily, and have the training to do so in print. So I am perfectly able to blah blah blah, yadda yadda yadda on such subjects, and only those like-minded get it.

I do believe that one pitfall is that role players tend to initially learn to RP from one, and only one group, and those patterns tend to "fix' their understanding of "what RPG's are", and what makes a "good game" (If only because, if that one example is not to their liking, they don't RP! Or at least not until later...) Later, when their social circles move or expand or shift, they may meet others who learned differently - and then they are exposed for the first time to a new way. When this happens, sometimes they bounce off or reject it, sometimes they adapt or adopt, or sometimes they share and become a teacher - or all of the above.

So, some people learn to RP as a competitive game similar to tabletop wargames, some as a venue for comedy, some as immersion theatre, some as an open-ended venue for creativity, some as ego-wish fulfillment - or they first see RPG's as being "only" that, and aren't interested until they run across something later. And some fortunate souls later find something they are more interested in, and some rare ones are able to continue to balance and synthesize all the different approaches into one - the unitarian approach to Roleplaying.

But its rare that a new player learns to play using something akin to RE's approach, which I think few would dany is a fairly complex and sophisticated one. (Whether that means it's also a "better" approach is something I won't argue here, tho' I believe so.)

I do have some of my own RP theory, but mine is based on the progress of how an individual approaches characters and how that changes over time and experience, and not how they approach the game qua game. But if people are interested in kicking stuff like that around, (and don't mind seeing words like "synecdoche" and "qua"), I'm always in. For better or worse. :wink: