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Solving the Narraitivst gamers Exalted paradox

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  • CapitanTypo
    started a topic Solving the Narraitivst gamers Exalted paradox

    Solving the Narraitivst gamers Exalted paradox

    A lot of people like to describe themselves as Narrativist gamers, and Exalted provides a great opportunity for melodrama, moral dilemmas, social conflict and epic story arcs that make for interesting stories, BUT the game itself has always been incredibly crunchy in its mechanics, and because of the complex interaction of multiple charms, different approaches to combat, etc, Exalted also rewards very mechanics driven, strategic play.

    So for those who tend to favour a narrative-heavy style of play, how to you integrate or limit the mechanics of a game like Exalted without losing the fun and flavour that the charms and other mechanics bring to the game?

  • Vegetalss4
    replied
    Originally posted by Blackwell View Post
    Illusionism (as I understand it) refers specifically to the GM providing the illusion of choice or chance. A toy example would be asking players whether they turn left or right at the fork in the road, but then having them get ambushed by the same orcs either way. The players are left to presume that cause and effect applied, but in reality it was predetermined that which ever way they went they were going to have the encounter the GM wrote up, because she didn't have time to write two. In a narrative context like this it's often called "railroading", in a gamist context it's often called "fudging". In any case it's in direct opposition to simulationism, or perhaps more accurately it compromises simulation in the service to some other goal.
    As I understand the term it refers not merely to "fudging" or the narrative equivalent, but rather to fudging and lying about it to your players, either explicitly or implicitly.
    So for instance if you tell your players that you will let the die fall where they may, or mention nothing in a general eviroment/culture where such would be considered the implicit default, but then fudge anyway, that would be illusionism.
    On the other hand if you told your players that you will from time to time ignore the dice, or mention nothing in a general eviroment/culture where such would be considered the implicit default, that wouldn't be illusionism, even if you don't mention every single time you fudge a specific roll.
    It's this element of lying to the players that make it an unpopular position to hold in the general online gaming community.

    Originally posted by Blackwell View Post
    In the context of EX3 I think insofar as it can the game embraces judicious illisionism, in general tone and specifically where it encourages you to take dramatic license sometimes. I don't think it can do much more than that, because illusionism is mostly just a thing that happens for practical reasons at the table rather than something the game does by itself.
    I disagree with this conclusion (going with your definition of illusionism here, not my own above), the strong degree of transparency the system assumes, extending even to information such as exactly how many 1s/10s/whatevers did that npc get on that specific rolls in addition to their hardness + whatever charms they activate as they activate them, would seem to me to make fudging rather diffucult.
    Through I do agree that the system expects you to ignore it sometimes, but it seems to me that it also expect the players to know when that happens.

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  • Deinos
    replied
    Originally posted by Gayo View Post

    At its root, Exalted is just a simple resource and resolution system, and everything else is a bunch of extra layers of mechanical complexity put overtop of different tasks to add texture. Extrapolating a simpler system is as simple as stripping away those layers temporarily in times and places where they're not accomplishing much.
    This is easily the first time I've heard someone argue that Exalted was "simple." Its about as rules heavy as you can get, with no guidelines on dialing it back. I would actually like to see rules light Exalted, something on the level of say, OD&D, whereas normally I don't like rules light stuff.

    Either way, engaging in truly drastic levels of homebrew to make a trimmed down version of an RPG does not mean that RPG is simple or trimmed down to begin with.

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  • ParanoiaCombo
    replied
    Originally posted by Blackwell View Post
    Illusionism (as I understand it) refers specifically to the GM providing the illusion of choice or chance. A toy example would be asking players whether they turn left or right at the fork in the road, but then having them get ambushed by the same orcs either way. The players are left to presume that cause and effect applied, but in reality it was predetermined that which ever way they went they were going to have the encounter the GM wrote up, because she didn't have time to write two. In a narrative context like this it's often called "railroading", in a gamist context it's often called "fudging". In any case it's in direct opposition to simulationism, or perhaps more accurately it compromises simulation in the service to some other goal.

    In the context of EX3 I think insofar as it can the game embraces judicious illisionism, in general tone and specifically where it encourages you to take dramatic license sometimes. I don't think it can do much more than that, because illusionism is mostly just a thing that happens for practical reasons at the table rather than something the game does by itself.
    The way I am defining Illusionism is the "Illusion" that I as the ST am impartial or objective, and definitely fair. It's the maintenance of that dog-and-pony show even though everyone at the table knows, with a wink and a nod, that ttrpg games aren't fair, balanced, or even really that broad in scope (You can only really do what the ST is able to direct or narrate). Despite this, the players want to be exposed to their mechanics in a manner where they can't tell the difference between the illusion, and the system running consistently or with integrity. I believe a lot of people who want system transparency are often disappointed with how it actually plays out at the table. As interesting as it can be for the dice to fall where they may sometimes, sometimes people want to win. I believe more people are strongly pro-illusionist than they might let on, because it's not a popular position to admit to enjoying. I run Exalted in an illusionist in previous editions because of the terrible mechanics, but in EX3 I run it as Illusionist to pretend that those 100's of charms really matter. My regular group is on board, either tacitly or explicitly. I don't run public games this way, though, nor did I run my playtesting this way (that would just be poor operator bias).

    I think Exalted 3E is great for illusionist play. There are so many minor crunch bits to leverage, it's basically impossible to tell the difference.

    Edit: Some of you might be asking, what is the benefit of this? Generally speaking, it allows the crunch-guy and the "doesn't care about character building" guy to play at the same table without having to ask either of them to change their philosophy of the game. It deals in the only currency that even matters in TTRPGs: Spotlight Time, and it's maintenance.
    Last edited by ParanoiaCombo; 06-03-2016, 04:49 PM.

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  • Blackwell
    replied
    Originally posted by ParanoiaCombo View Post
    So where does a preference for Illusionism fall in with EX3? It's not a 4th category, but rather an attitude regarding the 3 categorical elements as far as I am aware.
    Illusionism (as I understand it) refers specifically to the GM providing the illusion of choice or chance. A toy example would be asking players whether they turn left or right at the fork in the road, but then having them get ambushed by the same orcs either way. The players are left to presume that cause and effect applied, but in reality it was predetermined that which ever way they went they were going to have the encounter the GM wrote up, because she didn't have time to write two. In a narrative context like this it's often called "railroading", in a gamist context it's often called "fudging". In any case it's in direct opposition to simulationism, or perhaps more accurately it compromises simulation in the service to some other goal.

    In the context of EX3 I think insofar as it can the game embraces judicious illisionism, in general tone and specifically where it encourages you to take dramatic license sometimes. I don't think it can do much more than that, because illusionism is mostly just a thing that happens for practical reasons at the table rather than something the game does by itself.

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  • ParanoiaCombo
    replied
    So where does a preference for Illusionism fall in with EX3? It's not a 4th category, but rather an attitude regarding the 3 categorical elements as far as I am aware.

    Leave a comment:


  • Gayo
    replied
    Originally posted by Deinos View Post
    I don't see anything about Exalted that suggests its easy or recommended to dial down its crunch or how one would extrapolate a less crunchy system from it, other than, say, using Masters of Jade as much as possible.
    The game advises you in multiple places to make judicious use of the rules and not be afraid not to use them in situations where they're not helpful or necessary. The "baseline" challenge is set pretty high, so a lot of things intentionally fall below the normal threshold for mechanical engagement. The intensive systems are sufficiently disconnected from one another that you can elide one of them without affecting the others.

    At its root, Exalted is just a simple resource and resolution system, and everything else is a bunch of extra layers of mechanical complexity put overtop of different tasks to add texture. Extrapolating a simpler system is as simple as stripping away those layers temporarily in times and places where they're not accomplishing much.

    Leave a comment:


  • Deinos
    replied
    I don't see anything about Exalted that suggests its easy or recommended to dial down its crunch or how one would extrapolate a less crunchy system from it, other than, say, using Masters of Jade as much as possible.

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  • Gayo
    replied
    Exalted isn't really crunch-heavy for the sake of providing a tactical minigame. The crunch is there for texture and aesthetics. That means you can dial it up or down as needed, feel free to work outside the strictures of the mechanics when it works better. The game also gives players a lot of latitude, mechanically, and the crunch offers GMs a lot of flex room for things to go according to taste, which helps with narrativistic sentiments.

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  • Lula
    replied
    Over in the "Ex forum glossary" topic (which I can't find right now for some reason), I said I'd write a short introduction to GNS. It might be relevant here. Be advised that this topic is about the original meanings of the terms as conceived by Ron Edwards and used for most of their history.

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  • satoshi
    replied
    From my experiences I would call Promethean a simulationist system telling a story in which personal narrative plays a large part.

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  • Isator Levi
    replied
    Originally posted by Deinos View Post

    I agree, but I mean the personal actualization and feelings-n-stuff elements in Promethean, Wraith, and a few others strike me as kinda-narrative-ish.
    ‚ÄčI know little about this discourse, but my first thought on Promethean being described as a simulationist system would be the fact that your character's personal quest for humanity is something directly, numerically quantified, with stated minimum requirements, and where its culmination is dependent on a dice roll with modifiers provided by various details of the build up.

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  • Lundgren
    replied
    I find the GNS part of the big model to be useful when determining if a group of players are compatible. A lot of people are already playing with friends, and they have since long found something they are happy enough with. But, in my opinion, most people are completely unaware that there are different ways to like things, and can't express what they like themselves.

    If someone is talking about balance, fairness of the system, rules have to be RAW or clearly stated house-rules, and talks about encounters and challenges, they are probably quite high on the Gamist axis (and most likely not compatible with me).

    I'm a verisimilitude nut, and can spend countless hours on thinking of how things fits together, even if it is a game I'm not sure I will ever find a group of players to. This need to have an internal logic, even if it isn't visible and obvious, gives me a strong simulationistic preference.

    A person saying "never say 'no'; say 'yes, but..." is probably a narrativist. It is making an interesting story that is the main focus, and the Gamistic and Simulationistic willingness to kill a potentially good story, because that was how the rules/the setting work, might annoy a narrativist to no end. My own willingness to pick a result on if it might lead to something interesting, as long it is within what would be plausible, instead of letting a mechanic decide, might mean a certain level of narrativistic thinking.

    No one is a 100% in one camp and 0% in the rest, just as no system is just that. D&D 3.x/Pathfinder can be used as a genre simulation, but only if the setting is actually built around the rules. Otherwise it is a very poor simulationist system, while it still have a quite strong gamist focus. Fiasco, while being a very narrativistic game, is far to gamey for me and it is to narrowly focused to be used for much else.

    As I understand it, the combat system of Ex3 is designed to give the flow of combat, and it has tactical choices. However, those choices are in a large part not related to the choices made by the character. So it is not a simulationistc genre simulation, but a narrativistic genre simulation with a strong gameistic component. I think it would be possible to use Ex3 as inspiration to write a more simulationistic combat system. Still this might be due to a complete disagreement of how the genre actually work from an ingame perspective.

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  • Wurzel
    replied
    Essentially the GNS model is focused on what the design prioritizes: creating a full realisation of the fictional world (sim), creating a particular kind of story (nar), or creating a challenge for the players (gamist). While many system we think of as simulationist - D&D, HERO, etc - strive for a high degree of 'realism' or 'verisimilitude', that's not needed for a sim game; modelling a character's motivations and drives is just as much driven by simulationist motives as modelling how much weight they can carry. To be narrativist mechanics things have to actually shape the story, whether by setting what must happen in a particular scene, making a statement that something occurs in the fiction, or many other narrative mechanics.

    As an example, take a hypothetical Hamlet RPG:
    - If Hamlet's actions and chances of success in a given scene are determined by his Angst, Decisiveness and Sword-Fighting stats, that's probably sim.
    - If his actions are determined by how many steps along the Tragic Hero path he's travelled, that's probably narrative.
    - If hist actions are determined by how cleverly the player can make choices to determine the best chance of success, that's probably gamist.

    As should be apparent, Exalted 3e is a mixture of all these approaches. It's mainly rooted in simulationist practices; even Limit and Intimacies are modelling a thing that exists in the fiction. Character advancement decisions and combat, on the other hand, are highly gamist, presenting several optimisation problems and tactical challenges to players. Finally, systems like the Leadership project system, the sanctity of merits, crippling damage and maybe Lore's fact declaration (depending on your definitions) are more narrativist-focused. In my experience, the great majority of systems have elements that draw from all three categories and it's rare to find one that's exclusively one thing.

    In general I feel the GNS model (and the rest of the Big Model) are far more designer-focused than player-focused; it's trying to set down ideas for designers to consider as they make games and analyse the design of others, rather than trying to analyse what actually happens in gameplay. In particular, it doesn't really touch upon the emotional impact a game has on players and the existence or lack of immersion.

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  • Deinos
    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).
    I agree, but I mean the personal actualization and feelings-n-stuff elements in Promethean, Wraith, and a few others strike me as kinda-narrative-ish. But as I mention, yeah, virtually everything that I've ever liked, or ever hated, or ever had no comment on, turned out to be simulationism. MtAsc has a little bit of the frou-frou self actualization stuff with its vision quests at each arete level and paradigms and so forth.

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