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Solving the Narraitivst gamers Exalted paradox

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  • Root
    replied
    Originally posted by CapitanTypo View Post

    To get back to the idea of the GNS model as a way of thinking about game design, what about the idea that their are styles of play that are independent of the rules or intended style of the game?

    I ran Mage for years and seriously homebrewed the rules to get the detail out and focus on narrative elements, and in my exp. this is what happens at many game tables when prefered playing style doesnt mesh with the rules of the game-though it usually happens when people who prefer narrative focused play are interested in the setting and mythos of a game that is more system driven than they like.
    At some point aren't you just making a new, narrativist game based heavily on Mage? A lot of "we play this game but in that style" is indistinguishable from playing a different game with a lot of rules in common.

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  • Root
    replied
    Originally posted by Meianno Yuurei View Post
    Another way of putting it, in my understanding:

    I want to climb a wall....
    This mostly makes sense, though I'd zoom out a bit for the first one. A gamist approach primarily challenges me to decide what resources, if any, to put into wall-climbing. I have to know at character creation whether it's worth it to overcome walls in some fashion, e.g. do I have some way to climb walls, walk through walls, smash walls, etc. Then in play I need to decide what resources I want to spend beating the wall, whether I want to bear the shame of asking my friends to get me over the wall I failed to prepare for, etc. The focus of play is a series of resource management and problem-solving questions, even if there's other stuff as well.

    The simulationist sounds right on, though I'd add that, since there's less emphasis on beating the game, there's also room to explore other stuff if the wall can't be climbed. Or maybe not, sometimes, at which point the player feels a certain sense of rightness at the character being devoured by hyenas.

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  • satoshi
    replied
    Originally posted by CapitanTypo View Post

    To get back to the idea of the GNS model as a way of thinking about game design, what about the idea that their are styles of play that are independent of the rules or intended style of the game?

    I ran Mage for years and seriously homebrewed the rules to get the detail out and focus on narrative elements, and in my exp. this is what happens at many game tables when prefered playing style doesnt mesh with the rules of the game-though it usually happens when people who prefer narrative focused play are interested in the setting and mythos of a game that is more system driven than they like.

    Heh, I've done basically the opposite and converted several game to the Hero System, which is probably the crunchiest system I've ever seen. I agree that different tables are going to adjust the system to best fit their gaming style. That being said I'm not sure it is something that really can or possibly should be taken into account. As it is really hard to model: "At frustration level X we just gave up and used different rules" in the game design process.

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  • CapitanTypo
    replied
    Originally posted by Holden View Post


    Promethean was sim. All World of Darkness games up to Blood & Smoke were like 95% sim with a couple of narrative rules for garnish (usually the Humanity trait or something like it), even though the aims of the game are obviously narrativist and the play style wants you to be narrativist, the rules weren't really congruent with that. Most games, historically, up until the 2000s are primarily sim, even if that's not what they're really going for (and even EX3 uses that as its bedrock layer-- one of the reasons I tend to think sim is a questionably category, but hey if you're working with Big Three, it was part of the original model).
    To get back to the idea of the GNS model as a way of thinking about game design, what about the idea that their are styles of play that are independent of the rules or intended style of the game?

    I ran Mage for years and seriously homebrewed the rules to get the detail out and focus on narrative elements, and in my exp. this is what happens at many game tables when prefered playing style doesnt mesh with the rules of the game-though it usually happens when people who prefer narrative focused play are interested in the setting and mythos of a game that is more system driven than they like.

    Leave a comment:


  • Holden
    replied
    Originally posted by Deinos View Post

    GNS is about what the mechanics are supposed to reflect. Early D&D tended towards lots of gamist and a little bit of simulationist, 3e and 5e are just gamist, 4e is gamist and narrativist (solos, minions, encounters, and dailies are all justified, explicitly so, in their role in the narrative). Offhand, Promethean, for example, strikes me as particularly narrativist in nature, as your whole sub-experience system, vitriol, depends on you fulfilling the narrative of your dubiously successful quest for humanity.

    They definitely don't correspond to how highbrow or lowbrow the actual party's playstyle is: simulationism is just that, rules that are based off your attempt at simulating reality. For example, trying to model weapons based off your understanding of how they interact with armor is simulationism, while trying to set up weapons to make them balanced based off how many skill points they need or how costly they are and so forth is more gamism.

    If you're just using the rulebooks and not houseruling anything, no matter how your style goes, you're not affecting its place in the GNS spectrum.

    Promethean was sim. All World of Darkness games up to Blood & Smoke were like 95% sim with a couple of narrative rules for garnish (usually the Humanity trait or something like it), even though the aims of the game are obviously narrativist and the play style wants you to be narrativist, the rules weren't really congruent with that. Most games, historically, up until the 2000s are primarily sim, even if that's not what they're really going for (and even EX3 uses that as its bedrock layer-- one of the reasons I tend to think sim is a questionably category, but hey if you're working with Big Three, it was part of the original model).

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  • LadyLens
    replied
    My feeling on players who reject the idea of actually understanding and engaging with the mechanics is that by rejecting "power gaming" and "munchkinism" you are effectively choosing to play a comparative incompetent. To use a simple example, in D&D the most important stats for a fighter are Strength, Dex, and Con, and you want to have the most damaging weapon and most protective armour you can get. If, for whatever reason, you choose to put your best numbers into Int, Wis, and Char, and you take only a light weapon and wear no armour, then you have no grounds to complain if your fighter cannot contribute in a fight. If you either will not or cannot take the time and expend the effort needed for a high-crunch game, then don't play it! There are plenty of other game system around. Find something suited to your tastes instead of complaining that something doesn't cater to them when it was never a design goal. If you like lots of crunch, don't play Cortex. If you hate math, avoid Hero.

    On a related matter: Playing your character and understanding the rules are not contradictory! Indeed, quite the opposite. If, for example, your character is supposedly an experienced fighter, then making the most mechanically sound choices to maximize your fighting prowess is good character play. An experienced fighter becomes experienced by learning what does and doesn't work and focussing on what works. Deliberately ignoring the mechanics is exactly the same as saying your character is a bull-headed fool. If that seems an excessive statement, consider this: many of you are skilled in various trades and professions. What would you think of someone who deliberately chose to use poor equipment or bad procedures "because I must be true to my vision!" You'd think he's a nitwit, right? It's the same for your character. If you choose to play Joxer, don't complain when he gets upstaged by Xena, or Gabrielle mocks him.

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  • Deinos
    replied
    Originally posted by kingcrackers View Post
    See, that's two things I'm confused about. What's "highbrow?" What's "lowbrow?" What are these value statements?

    And furthermore, I thought simulationists also modeled genre and tone, instead of only reality? That the core of the simulationist "ethos" was "fidelity to a source," and that source could be either a greater body of work or physics?
    I brought up the highbrow to point out that "gamist" vs "narrativist" isn't about lowbrow or highbrow. What gamism absolutely isn't, is limited to "kill da baddies and get the treasures!" On the other hand, gamism acknowledges that its thousands of times easier to write a rule system that focuses on "kill da baddies and get the treasures" because those are largely mechanical quandaries as opposed to in depth rules for feelings and showing ghosts photographs of their grandchildren.

    As far as genre you're right, I thought that fell under narrativism. Looking at a summary of GNS from Wikipedia;

    "Simulationism maintains a self-contained universe operating independent of player will; events unfold according to internal rules. Combat may be broken down into discrete, semi-randomised steps for modeling attack skill, weapon weight, defense checks, armor, body parts and damage potential. "

    "Characters usually change and develop over time, and attempts to impose a fixed storyline are impossible or counterproductive. Moments of drama (the characters' inner conflict) make player responses difficult to predict, and the consequences of such choices cannot be minimized."

    "Gamist RPG design emphasizes parity; all player characters should be equally strong and capable of dealing with adversity. Combat and diversified options for short-term problem solving (for example, lists of specific spells or combat techniques) are frequently emphasized."

    Johnathon Tweet, the father of GNS theory, originally called "Narrativist," "Drama." I would have considered genre stuff to be narrativism, but apparently that's simulationism. So according to this, Exalted tends towards... simulationism? It is VERY much a genre game. Of course, the N in official GNS (as opposed to informal GNS) strikes me more as the genre rules for romantic fantasy. Hell, even 3rd edition D&D and Pathfinder, which are the crunchiest of the crunchy games, would be Simulationist, not Gamist, because the axiom of "all player characters should be equally strong" sure as hell doesn't apply there. Additionally since even the gamiest of RPGs like D&D emphasize they're not about winning, I don't think there really *are* gamist RPGs, as defined in GNS theory, except a few super obscure ones, as likely to be artsy fartsy as beer and pretzels.

    So it seems to be that there are basically NS, and virtually everything is actually simulationism. Easily everything I hate and everything I like is simulationism.

    The jist of the three arcs seem to challenge, story, consistency.

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  • Angwe
    replied
    Ex3 is in itself not a game that I would describe as narrativist, but it doesn't get in the way of playing it in that style either.

    To detail that further, it offers no or very little in the way of tools or mechanics to push the story. But I can most definitely front-load my character's personal story-arc and have her pointed at her first crucible, using intimacies, inventing some flaws and a background of two or three paragraphs. And in a way that is easily read and absorbed by the ST. Which is more than enough for players and ST's familiar with the style of play

    As others have pointed out, a narrativist system is not by definition rules-light. Burning Wheel springs to mind as another example of a rules-heavy narrativist system. It's also not simply about describing the ingame fiction. A narrativist system puts creating and constantly pushing the story of your character as it's first design priority. In their more extreme variants it feels more like playing the story of a character than the character itself (i.e. you're more like a director of the movie than the actor).

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  • Bastet
    replied
    Third Edition does not seem that narrativist to me so much as a response to an edition where vocal elements of the community advised players to respond to talking with violence because words were bewitching sorcery and the idea that perfect effects let you get one over on a killer GM.

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  • Wandering
    replied
    Originally posted by SpruceStripedGoose View Post
    I get that stunts in exalted are supposed to reward players for being creative, but they never entirely made logical sense. Sometimes the task becomes easier (more dice) because you have found some clever solution to a problem worthy of a stunt, but sometimes the task becomes easier because you have chosen to make your action extremely complex and daring which isn't exactly logical.
    The people who first introduced me to Exalted jokingly described it as "the game where you lose dice for every second your feet stay on the ground," in reference to the wuxia-style stunts players often describe using in combat. Stunting is more than just rewarding players for being creative. It's one part genre emulation, because you want to encourage players to both try and succeed at some of the amazing feats that the heroes of the stories Exalted draws on for inspiration do, but perhaps the most important part is it's a reminder for players that they should be entertaining their fellow players as well.

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  • Meianno Yuurei
    replied
    Another way of putting it, in my understanding:

    I want to climb a wall.

    A gamist approach attempts to measure how much fun failing to climb the wall would be, weighed against succeeding, and tries to set mechanics based on how much the chance of failure increases the fun of success vs the not-fun of failing to climb, and then sets that difficulty accordingly. The wall may get described differently to account for my character's skill so that the optimally fun 20%failure chance makes sense.

    A simulationist approach attempts to measure how difficult the wall should believably be to climb and assigns a difficulty for the roll, independent of my character's skill. If my character is good enough they bypass it without issue and if they're incompetent enough at climbing the wall is an utterly impassable barrier, because the important thing in setting the difficulty is making it believable, believing fun to stem from accuracy.

    A narrativist approach asks if the wall is an interesting obstacle and if it makes sense for the story to obstruct my character. The effort to overcome it may be waived if it isn't important or interesting enough an obstacle.

    Exalted is somewhere in the middle. The difficulties are set based on ideas of how difficult it should be to accomplish things, but the characters we play are typically well above those limitationa. I would call it a primarily gamist-narrativist by my understanding - the most important aspects are "is the mechanic fun to play with" and "is the mechanic serving the story we desire to tell", with "is it ~realistic~" taking a far back seat. It is mechanics heavy, but those mechanics are intended to serve the narrative (Ex3 initiative based combat is all about the dramatic flow of the combat, not modeling individual sword strikes).

    Edit: okay that was a little harsh on simulationist. Exalted 2e tried include simulationist, in the sense of "the narrative and game mechanics are real in universe things". Motonic science, stunts being an in universe thing rather than just"the story follows better and is more fun with rewarded descriptions". Some of it may be more fanon but it was a bit detrimental to the themes in the long run.
    Last edited by Meianno Yuurei; 06-01-2016, 06:50 AM.

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  • The Wizard of Oz
    replied
    They might be simulationist in simulating, say, simulating the magic from a book series used in the exact way that it works in the books, but emulating, say, the tone of the books, in terms of having heroes only die in meaningful and dramatic ways, or having the bad guys guarenteed to make one fatal flaw allowing the good guys to win, would be narrativist.

    I find Exalted to be generally a bit of all of them. 3rd ed I would say is definitely less simulationist than 2nd ed. Weapons, combat and crafting are all things that are more narrativist and less simulationist than in 2nd ed. I think some of the charms are more gamist than before as well. The time has always been narrativist based (scenes, stories, etc, rather discrete units of time). And then there's stunts.
    I would still say it's not a very narrativist game though.
    I think it's probably broadly in the middle. Or rather, it has parts of each of the three. Though probably less simulationist than narrativist or gamist.
    Last edited by The Wizard of Oz; 06-01-2016, 06:41 AM.

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  • kingcrackers
    replied
    Originally posted by Deinos View Post
    They definitely don't correspond to how highbrow or lowbrow the actual party's playstyle is: simulationism is just that, rules that are based off your attempt at simulating reality. For example, trying to model weapons based off your understanding of how they interact with armor is simulationism, while trying to set up weapons to make them balanced based off how many skill points they need or how costly they are and so forth is more gamism.
    See, that's two things I'm confused about. What's "highbrow?" What's "lowbrow?" What are these value statements?

    And furthermore, I thought simulationists also modeled genre and tone, instead of only reality? That the core of the simulationist "ethos" was "fidelity to a source," and that source could be either a greater body of work or physics?

    Leave a comment:


  • SpruceStripedGoose
    replied
    Originally posted by Lundgren View Post
    My biggest gripe about the stunt system is the examples, as they have the stunting player describing the full action before the roll. That means the roll can contradict the person, which can make an uncomfortable stumble in the narrative.
    I like the way the new edition of scion is handling it,

    -You describe the base of the action you are going to take (ie. climb a wall)

    -The storyteller sets a difficulty for that action

    -Any threshold successes rolled beyond that difficulty can be spent to add a stunt to that base action (ie. creating a handhold for a friend climbing behind you lowering the difficulty of their roll)

    I get that stunts in exalted are supposed to reward players for being creative, but they never entirely made logical sense. Sometimes the task becomes easier (more dice) because you have found some clever solution to a problem worthy of a stunt, but sometimes the task becomes easier because you have chosen to make your action extremely complex and daring which isn't exactly logical. I don't think Scion's solution will hamper players creativity, it will just change when they apply it.

    I also like that Scion stunts will reward players with more than just extra dice or willpower, they can have exciting results and rewards beyond just getting success on an action.

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  • Deinos
    replied
    Originally posted by kingcrackers View Post
    I thought the GNS was primarily an approach to running games. Which is to say, it's how the players want to do things and interact. A gamist Exalted game would be "beat up everyone" and "crown myself king." A narrativist Exalted game would be "Let's deal with our issues and see how our characters collide." A simulationist game would be "And then now my long-lost son appears because it's dramatically appropriate" or "And now we deal with the enemy's supply lines."
    GNS is about what the mechanics are supposed to reflect. Early D&D tended towards lots of gamist and a little bit of simulationist, 3e and 5e are just gamist, 4e is gamist and narrativist (solos, minions, encounters, and dailies are all justified, explicitly so, in their role in the narrative). Offhand, Promethean, for example, strikes me as particularly narrativist in nature, as your whole sub-experience system, vitriol, depends on you fulfilling the narrative of your dubiously successful quest for humanity.

    They definitely don't correspond to how highbrow or lowbrow the actual party's playstyle is: simulationism is just that, rules that are based off your attempt at simulating reality. For example, trying to model weapons based off your understanding of how they interact with armor is simulationism, while trying to set up weapons to make them balanced based off how many skill points they need or how costly they are and so forth is more gamism.

    If you're just using the rulebooks and not houseruling anything, no matter how your style goes, you're not affecting its place in the GNS spectrum.

    Leave a comment:

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