Looney Labs Something Mailing list Archive

Re: [Something] Re: Icehouse RPG

  • FromJoshua Kronengold <mneme@xxxxxx>
  • DateWed, 7 Mar 2007 12:07:31 -0600
Brian Campbell writes:
>(per Carol's suggestion, I'm moving this to the Something list)


>On Mar 6, 2007, at 5:43 PM, Joshua Kronengold wrote:
>> Brian Campbell writes:
>> I should probably look at the system. :)
>As I said, upon looking at it further, it was less like "yet another  
>GURPS" than I had thought at first glance.

Still haven't looked.  Too busy, alas.

>> Or you could have a generic conflict resolution system (a la Hero
>> Quest or Dogs in the Vinyard) and have social conflict work using the
>Yes, that's true. I haven't looked at either of the games you  
>mention, so I can't say much about them in particular, but what I  
>find is that the most general sort of conflict resolution tend to be  
>a bit bland because of their generality.

Actually, recent generation conflict generation techniques are pretty
neat -- with a lot of changes played on them, you figure out what a
scene is -really- about, set some parameters for how it can resolve,
and then play a minigame to resolve it in what's hopefully a
satisfying manner.  Not all of the defining ones from important games
(hmm. The Shadows of Yesterday, Capes, Prime Time Adventure, Dogs in
the Vinyard, probably some others I'm forgetting) work the same way,
are ideal, or even are ones I end up liking, but all are worth
examining to see how they work and what they do.  In particular, I
find that Capes' minigame requires too much concentration on and
player-understanding of the minigame in order to work at all to be
worth using, despite the elegance of the basic idea, that it's a lot
of work to get actual roleplaying into Prime Time Adventure's setup.

But then, none of them are really vanilla -- TSoY is all about setting
patterns for your characters that you then are rewarded for following
and deciding when it's worth the risk of Bringing Down the Pain
(TSOY's in-depth, high risk conflict resolution system), Capes is all
about oppositionally collaberative storytelling -- getting other
players to invest enough into things they want that they end up giving
you cookies you can spend to get the things you want, and winning the
things you want so you get another, different kinds of cookie; PTA's
all about consensus conflict framing and making every scene mean
something, regardless of the result; Dogs in the Vinyard is all about
deciding what it's worth risking to get your character's intent, with
a system that usually gives you several significant advantages
(raising the stakes, many more total dice if you're willing to throw
them in) over the environment, but often only if you're willing to
accept the appropriate fallout, whether it's another bad trait (ie,
temptation for yet more fallout) injury, or evan death.

>They tend to be along the lines of "roll a die or three, combine it
>somehow with some sort of score, and compare that result to the other
>guy doing the same and/or a difficulty,"

Nah; see above.  That's old school.  New school, it's all about stakes
setting or intent declaration, combined with determining what you're
willing to pay or risk to get your goals.  And mechanics that try to
enable engagement with the game and the other players.

>Yes, what I'm saying is that the limit as narrativism approaches  
>infinity (and game and simulation approach 0) appears to be freeform  
>(or something like that). Without any form of game, or simulation,  
>what do you have other than collaborative storytelling?

I rather like collaborative storytelling, really -- but a key insight
is that even freeform isn't as free of form as it seems; you create
unstated rules between players that keep things flowing and moving, as
people determine who's going to play opposition, who's responsible for
presenting problems, etc.  In general, I find high-mechanics systems
to add too little to a game to be better than, say, GM-ed
collaberative storytelling using OTE dice (with a few modifications)
and traits to resolve conflict-relevant tasks.  But a few pointy-bits
can keep things moving at times.

>Fair enough. I am only passingly familiar with the definitions from  
>the Forge

Suffice it to say that I'm more familiar. :)

>Well, the problem is that all of them are very fundamental concepts  
>in roleplaying, and it's hard to use the lowercase terms (the ones  
>lacking "-ist" or "-ism") without evoking the GNS/Forge terms.

I beg to differ--mostly, the use of those terms serves to put things
in buckets, whereas describing what you actually like is much more

>Anyhow, I'll say, using lowercase terms, that what I like best in  
>roleplaying, and find helps me enjoy the game, is where narrative and  
>game are tightly linked and well aligned, and the game simulates the  
>setting well enough for me to feel immersed and be able to suspend  

Cool enough. Doesn't let me bucket you for GNS (because GNS N isn't
really about narrative, but narrative-driven conflict, and GNS G isn't
about mechanics, but about player-conflict driven Gamism), but then, I
don't actually care; it's not important. :)

>I've been able to. And this past weekend, I managed to miss not one  
>but two cons where I'm sure I could have played some great Theater  
>Style LARPs (Intercon and ProCon).

Yes. Yes, you did.  Intercon G was awsome!  You should come to
Intercon H!  (And not just because I expect we'll be bidding a game
for it).

>See, I like to think that it's best when all three are in balance.  
>Simulation helps create the buy-in; the feeling that there really is  
>a world out there where this stuff is happening,

Sure.  The only problem is that when using this as a classifcation
system, it's kinda meaningless -- -all- games in the
story-game/roleplaying-game constellation strive for a sense of
dissasociation and a feeling of verity.  If there's no suspension of
disbelief, there's no fiction, no roleplaying, no game, really, except
mabye a board game.  The question is how they attempt to manage it --
from player decisions on what make sense (ie, "that's just silly, try
something else") to rigourous attempts to simulate an underlying
reality and beyond.

       Joshua Kronengold (mneme@(io.com, labcats.org)) |\      _,,,--,,_  ,)
--^--   "Did you know, if you increment enough, you   /,`.-'`'   -,  ;-;;'
 /\\    get an extra digit?"  "I knew," weeps Six.    |,4-  ) )-,_ ) /\     
/-\\\   "We knew. But we had forgotten."	     '---''(_/--' (_/-'

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