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Solving the Narraitivst gamers Exalted paradox

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  • #31
    When i describe myself as primarily narrativeist (or narrative focused) I'm referring to the core focus of my games.

    I have a pretty good player bunch which lets me get away with a lot in service to the collaborative story as a whole and the rules are used to define the means by which the players can propel their characters through it.

    The natural languge actually helps me with that a bit. Giving me enough room to interpret rules and powers in ways that give players more options beyond what the writer necessarily intended without feeling like im bending rules unevenly.

    The core mechanics still provide a set of restrictions (in so far as we dont just make everything up) for the players to work under and provides challenge beyond what we imagine might be fun or interesting.

    It might lock out some options (No twilight, you cannot introduce a lore fact stating Water is Ash no matter how well reasoned your discourse) but certainly opens up a lot of others that a more specific mechanical speak might not allow (Hello eclipse using bureaucracy to buy and trade information as a good).

    Based on what John said, i think that just means my group happens to fall under the curtain of EX3's target unbrella quite perfectly; so i dont have much need for the game to do more, or less, than what it already does.

    More charms are good though. Gimmie more. Sooner rather than later. :P
    Last edited by Elkovash; 05-31-2016, 07:11 PM. Reason: Ugh, phone typing...


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    • #32
      Originally posted by Holden View Post

      It is probably helpful to look at design as occurring along at least a set of X-Y axes rather than just as a flat list of three styles, because a lot of the problem in this thread-- it's completely turned Totentanz around!-- is coming from conflating "narrativist" with "light" or "abstract" design, and they don't necessarily correspond at all.
      Then how do you define Narrativist gaming that it is independent from the mechanics of the game?


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      • #33
        I think that's what he meant by "abstract".

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        • #34
          Originally posted by Elfive View Post
          I think that's what he meant by "abstract".
          Abstract as a signifier, as Holden uses it, seems to have more to do with the structure and character of the mechanics (Pathfinder and GURPS are very traditional, vanilla Fate and D&D4 are a little abstract, Fiasco is a lot abstract). Which means by necessity the mechanics are involved. "Narrativist gaming that is independent from the mechanics of the game" (CapitanTypo) is probably closer to a flavor of "light", which is to say, either there are no mechanics that apply to the narrative (the game is light in that regard) or you are ignoring them (in which case you've lightened it by omitting some of it).

          But really, it's not a property of the game at all, more like an off-label use of the game, an emergent property of the combination of the game and your particular group. The game may be light, heavy, abstract, traditional, whatever, but you're using it as a narrative framework in a way the author may have intended but, by definition, didn't codify.
          Last edited by Blackwell; 05-31-2016, 09:03 PM.

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          • #35
            Originally posted by Blackwell View Post
            Abstract as a signifier, as Holden uses it, seems to have more to do with the structure and character of the mechanics (Pathfinder and GURPS are very traditional, vanilla Fate and D&D4 are a little abstract, Fiasco is a lot abstract). Which means by necessity the mechanics are involved. "Narrativist gaming that is independent from the mechanics of the game" (CapitanTypo) is probably closer to a flavor of "light", which is to say, either there are no mechanics that apply to the narrative (the game is light in that regard) or you are ignoring them (in which case you've lightened it by omitting some of it).

            But really, it's not a property of the game at all, more like an off-label use of the game, an emergent property of the combination of the game and your particular group. The game may be light, heavy, abstract, traditional, whatever, but you're using it as a narrative framework in a way the author may have intended but, by definition, didn't codify.

            And this is why the tile of the post was the "Narrativist gamers exalted paradox" - because it seems to me that it is a paradox to take a narrativist approach to playing exalted, which is inherently a mechanics based system, regardless of how those mechanics may support story driven goals. I suppose I assumed a more commonly understood meaning to the term, which, in my mind does mean more abstract and rules light approach to game play.

            So I'm interested in how those people who try to engage in a more narrative-focused style of play engage with the game, which is what this thread - perhaps poorly - sought to elicit from other forum users.


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            "If only I had an enemy bigger than my apathy, I could have won" - I gave you all, Mumford & Sons

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            • #36
              Originally posted by CapitanTypo View Post

              So I'm interested in how those people who try to engage in a more narrative-focused style of play engage with the game, which is what this thread - perhaps poorly - sought to elicit from other forum users.
              I have a podcast which showcases this in great detail .


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              • #37
                Originally posted by CapitanTypo View Post

                Then how do you define Narrativist gaming that it is independent from the mechanics of the game?
                You cannot describe any game's structure independent of its mechanics. The nar/sim/gamist triad is a model for describing mechanics. So, a narrativist game is one that is first and foremost interested in modeling a certain style of telling stories or emulating the peculiarities of a particular genre, at the system level.

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                • #38
                  There can be more than one axis describing a game. It does not have to be linear.


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                  • #39
                    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."

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                    • #40
                      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."

                      That's not what the Big Three model was designed to map out, no. It's supposed to be a game design tool.

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                      • #41
                        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.

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                        • #42
                          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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                          • #43
                            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?

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                            • #44
                              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.


                              I run... Lunars: The Apocalypse! Exalted 3rd edition. Fimbulwinter is upon the world as an Ice Age begins, and only six young Lunar heroes have a chance of saving humanity.

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                              • #45
                                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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