I have often thought of starting a more generel discussion on roleplaying in this forum. This forum is directed toward Ars Magica in particular - and as such we often discuss mechanics rather than methods. The mechanics of the rules and the setting. But I cannot recall ever having seen a thread on methods. By methods I think of how we storyguide and play at our session. What methods do we use to narrate the world of Mythic Europe?
Why not discuss this somewhere else? Well, I do know of many other RPG-forums (not least among the very vibrant local RPG community) and many of these discuss nothing but subjects of this sort. Then why attempt to start one here? First of all because I think methods and gamespecific mechanics are much more integrated and interacting than we usually give it credit for. The rules set the frames for the setting and our play - but the setting is also readable from the rules. "Just as the reader of any form of fiction enters into a sort of contract that sets the conditions for her willing suspension of disbelieve, every roleplaying game comes with a similar, implicit contract that formulates what is expected of the player to make the package work" (Joris Dormans). In other words I do not think I would find it as rewarding to discuss RPG-meta or methods with someone who plays another RPG-system or even ruleless non-system roleplaying. And even though I also play other RPGs or ruleless scenarios Ars is where my heart lies. Secondly this forum is great company, so why go somewhere else?
A thing really prompting me to getting on with this was the inspiration I had from reading this splendid article earlier today. I encourage all to read and enjoy Joris Dormans enlightened words. As a sidenote Dormans lists Ars Magica as one of his references. Even though I do not think that roleplaying should get too 'academizised', I do think it is great that the acedemia is getting a growing interest in roleplaying as a media and a social form (even if the social scientist working with this often are or have been players themselves). Just earlier this year my university had a symposium on roleplaying. The linked article is another great example of this trend of growing interest, and even if some of the things are evident to roleplayers or just "a-ha!" confirming experiences, I think it is great to see it explicitly articulated.
Some of things I think it could be interesting to discuss here, if anyone share any of those interests:
What did you think of Dorman's article? What thoughts or comments did it inspire?
What methods do you use as a SG or player? Have you experimented with different methods or do you often stick to known territory? Do your troupe have some explicit discussions or agreed methods or is it implicitly understood only?
What is it about Ars that makes you tick? Besides the setting, the rules also very much define the stories we tell - so is there anything in that regards that makes Ars agree well to you?
Dormans states that playing "roleplaying games is an experience that incorporates three important factors. It is at the same time narrative, social and ludic. All these factors are important, although different players might value them differently. Some play for the narrative pleasures, some play to be with friends, while others enjoy the game for the challenges it offers". Even if it is hard (was to me at least), which of these three factors (narrative/social/ludic) would you say is the most important to you personally? What of your troupe - where would you place them?
Are you most inclined to simple and fast rules or complex and realistic rules?
I could think of many more questions or things to add, but for now I will leave this post as is, as a possible kick off for a discussion, and see whether there is any interest in it at all.