|NOTE: The following is discussion which took place on the forums of Gaming Outpost. It was saved and compiled by Hunter Logan, and is re-posted here with permission from Aaron Powell.|
Valamir (Ralph Mazza) 05/31/01 5:13 PM
I was reviewing the discussion on Stances in the Explorative thread. It is quite a jumble of ideas. Lets start by defining what exactly it is that Stances are supposed to differentiate. Here are some ideas I've been tossing around. It seems to me that Stances are the ways in which The Player relates to his Character relating to the Game World
B C |--->Player---->Character---->Game World---||------------------------------------------| A
A) Game World---->Player How he game world feeds information to the player. In some types of games the GM makes extra effort to keep OOC information out of the players hands. These types of games often result in the player playing 20 questions with the GM to determine the exact extent of character knowledge. "How big is the room?" "Do I see any doors?" "Can I hear anything on the other side of the door?" etc. In other types of games OOC information is not so tightly restricted. Games that use cut scenes are intentionally providing OOC information to the players.
B) Player------>Character How the player interacts with or uses his character. The player may make great efforts to remain in character, seeing only what his character sees, knowing only what his character knows, and often attempting to portray the character in first person. Alternatively the player might not make such a great effort to get into character. He instead controls his character's actions from outside the character.
C) Character----->Game World In this case the Game World includes the other characters and by extension the other characters players. The player may ensure that the the other players are well aware of the character's feelings, epiphanies and internal struggles. Alternatively the player may keep these things to himself experienceing them only internally. From here we can see 3 different pairs of components In Character Information vs. Out of Character Information First Person Perspective vs. Third Person Perspective Emoting Experiences vs. Internalizing Experiences Is it possible to identify each of the Stances in terms of the above components? How about the following attempts. Token: OOC Info, Third Person, Internal Actor (RFPA version): IC Info, First Person, Emotive Possessor: IC Info, First Person, Internal This make any sense?
Re: GEN - Stances
Scarlet Jester (Scarlet Jester) 05/31/01 8:59 PM
This is a quick post to get my current rough ideas up, and I'll edit and replace this with a more complete post on my group's thoughts when I get them.
Stance has been handled before by the RGFA group here (point 6). Val, like RGFA's stance descriptions, what you've said does make sense, but they're lacking a level of classification which actually aids the use of stances. To get that, we need to know a) what are stances actually used for, b)how they are classified, c)which ones are useful for which GENder or Focus, and d)how you support them in your game. Right now I can take a go at answering a, b, and c, with a quick note at the bottom on d.
GEN aims to give a guideline to what you should include in your games to achieve your goals (whether you're designing or running a game). Stances are one of the tools which GEN advises on using depending on the game's GENder. a) Most importantly, Stance is used mainly for 3 activities: Forming Statements of Intent Forming Statements of Resolution Communication b/c) Stances fall into 2 broad categories:
Intragame Stances: Dealing with ingame knowledge, details, and goals.
Metagame Stances: Dealing with out-of-game knowledge, details, and goals. Using the stances you've mentioned (and one more from RGFA), I'd redefine them to get to the core of their actual use in during RPG sessions. Token Stance: Metagame stance used in forming Statements of Intent. The token is used as an ingame pawn to achieve the player's goals. Mostly used in Gamist and Narrative games. In these games, the token is stripped of all details except for either a) their ability to overcome challenges or (gamist) b) their narrative role (narrative). If you've ever seen characters with no further depth beyond their THAC0 or their main Descriptor (ie Young Apprentice), you've seen this stance in action. It's a useful stance when you hand over directorial control of the supporting cast to the players.
Actor Stance: Metagame stance used in communicating information to the rest of the group to further the player's goals. Mostly used in Explorative and Narrative games. The information communicated is usually used for the group as a guideline of either a) how the player would like them to interact with his character (explorative) or b what narrative events the player would like to arise for his character (narrative). This is a very important stance to support in character-based RPGs (either Narrative or Explorative) if you don't use descriptive mechanics.
Possessor Stance: Intragame stance used for all 3 main stance activities (forming Statements of Intent/Resolution & Communication). Knowledge used is restricted to that of the character and is strictly used to further character goals. Mainly used in Gamist and Explorative RPGs.
Author Stance: Metagame stance used for forming Statements of Intent & Resolution to further player goals. All available knowledge is used. Mainly used in Gamist and Narrative RPGs. Mostly used in Gamist RPGs to decide upon the 'best move' and in Narrative RPGs to have the proper perspective to make decisions on how the narrative should flow. d) For a system to support the use of stances in forming Statements of Resolution, it is required for the system to grant the player some level of Directorial Power to be able to make those Statements of Resolution. For an RPG to support a group working together in enjoying the game, it should either include descriptive mechanics or support a communicative stance (such as Actor). We'll cover descriptive mechanics in another thread, but they could be personality mechanics (see Vampire) for exploration of character RPGs, subplot templates (see Alyria) for setting-based narrative RPGs, or class descriptors (see D&D) for power gamist RPGs. Thanks for starting this topic Stouty. Any questions of the terminology I've used? I've been using terms such as "Statement of Intent/Resolution" since my first posts on GO, but their definitions may be new to some people.
Re: GEN - Stances
Valamir (Ralph Mazza) 06/01/01 9:49 AM
Actually I think they mesh together pretty well. I was conceptualizing where these stances came from and you are defining what they are. I notice you've broadened the definition of Intragame and Metagame stances beyond the character/player stances you've used before. Before IIRC they strictly referred to whether or not the player uses IC or OOC information when making decisions for his character. Now however that is expanded to include other things such as relationship to the other players etc. It seems to me that it is possible to desire to use OOC information without having a desire to participate in the rest of that.
I guess what I'm saying is this, A player may be focused at the:
Character Level: He willfully shuts out aspects of the game world except those that his character specifically knows/witnesses/participates in.
Game World Level: He is still concerned with the actions of his character and may continue to play them "in character" (the difference is rather than asking "what would I (as the character) do here" he asks "what would my character do here"). In other words, what I was calling Third Person above, and what RPFA includes as part of audience stance. At this level the player is also concerned with the game world directly (not just the world as filtered through the character). He may merely want to observe and witness it, or attempt to interact with directly as a player. This I know is where I in my Exploration of Setting mode generally play, because in that mode it is my (the player's) experience of the setting the counts, and my character is largely a vehicle holding one of the cameras. At this level though outside concerns (such as the pizza man, the cat, etc) are still undesired because they break the "day dream". Real World Level: At this level the player is interacting with the real world as much as he is interacting with the game world. I think alot of roleplaying groups play at this level. It is at this level where table talk about the baseball game is interspersed freely with with game events, and player's interject Monty Python quotes that they have no intention of their character's actually saying.
At this level of play the character is pushed firmly into the third person to avoid confusion of "I" as player or "I" as character. At this level "I" means player, and "He" means character. I suspect this type of play is most common in Gamist games where immersion in the setting or in a character are not the primary points of enjoyment and where the prevelance of Token play can be found. The last group I played with firmly played at this level which is why I dropped out after 1 1/2 campaigns.
Perhaps I'm not reading it right, but it seems to me that the term Metagaming that you're using here combines what I call Real World level with Game World level into one category. I'm not sure I would do that, as I see a very clear difference between the two and have a definite preference for one over the other. Instead of Intra Game and Meta Game, I would simply call them Character Level, Game World Level, and Real World Level. Or if we prefer somewhat fancier terms: Intra Game, Meta Game, and Extra Game.
Given the above focusing my thoughts more I also offer the following refinement to my conceptualizing diagram from the first post.
Player---->Character: This is how the player relates to the character, either from the first person or from the third person. In Character/Intragame play the player relates to the character strictly in the first person perspective. In Game World/Metagame or Real World/Extragame the relationship is third person perspective.
Player---->Gameworld: I had the arrow backwards originally, it is the player relating to the Gameworld, not the other way around. In this case the player relates to the game world either as an observer in it. This can be either a first person observer (possessor) or a third person observer (audience), or he can interact with the game world. Note the distinction, the character can always interact with the game world, here the player is doing so directly. This can also be from the first person (author) or from the third person, interacting with areas of the game world outside of the character's sphere (could this perhaps be the distinction between author and director? Author limits such interaction to the character's sphere but director goes beyond and allows the player to interact with elements well outside of his character.
Character---->Gameworld: I've altered this idea of mine in light of the above. How the character relates to the game world is where IC or OCC information comes in. If the player studiously prohibits guiding the character using OOC knowledge, than the character's relationship to the game world is based only on IC knowledge. If the player utilizes OOC knowledge than the character's relationship to the game world is more complex...a degree of Serendipty appears as the character "just happens" to be at the right place at the right time.
Additionally I add the following:
Character---->Player: The line now goes both ways. I think this may be where Jim's Seeker stance fits in. The Player looks deep within himself to find the character and lets the character tell the Player who it is and what it wants. I've heard many authors say this happens when writing novels as well.
Player----> Realworld: How the player relates to the Real World. Does he attempt to shut out real world concerns (ringing phones etc), any thing that would break his suspension of disbelief, or is the player an active participant in the Real Word, playing his character between bites of pizza and jokes about another player's girlfriend. Character---->Realworld: This is where I've moved the emotive, internalized idea. This is how much the player attempts to convey his character's state of mind to the other players through the actions of the character. A key part of RPFA's Actor stance.
So that changes my Triangular relationship into a diamond. Picture this (since I'm not an Ascii artist) At the top point of the diamond is the Game World. At the bottom point of the diamond is the the Real World. On either side between these two are the interfaces between the Real World and the Game World, the Player and the Character. Lines from the player describe his interaction with the Game World (top) the Real World (bottom) and the Character (to the left). Lines from the Character describe its interaction with the Game World (top) the Real World (bottom) and the Player (right). I think now that every one of RFPA's stances (and perhaps even a few they hadn't thought of) can be defined in terms of these 6 relationships. I'm thinking that the above diagram is the concept of what is actually going on that underlies and leads to the Stances we've recognized and how they're best used to support different aspects of GEN style.
Re: GEN - Stances
Scarlet Jester (Scarlet Jester) 06/01/01 10:45 AM
The Intragame stance group sees no difference between any ingame feature, whether it's a geographical location, a mood or theme, or your own character. This is because there is really no functional difference if you have enough Directorial Power. Your description of how you spend the majority of your Exploration of Setting games is an Intragame stance. Yes you are using out of character information, but you aren't using out-of-game information. We have Possessor stance to describe the Intragame method of relating to your character. What would you call an Intragame stance of relating to the Setting?
Re: GEN - Stances
Valamir (Ralph Mazza) 06/01/01 12:23 PM
Perhaps I should give a little info on my motivations here. Its not to change the way Stances are defined, but to try and determine a theoretical justification for their existance. A model is an attempt to relate theory to practice. I have a fair degree of familiarity with statistical modeling and regressions and one of the items to be avoided is confusing correlation with causation. In other words, just because you can find a lot of data (observations) that correlate to an outcome doesn't mean the that the data caused the outcome.
The way to avoid this problem (called data mining, or data snooping in regression models) is to make sure that the relationships the model stresses are based on actual theoretical underpinnings, not simply on observed correlations. It seems to me that Stances are based on observations. Having witnessed different modes of play in practice, labels are applied to them. What I am attempting to do here is conceive of what the theoretical underpinning of these observations might be. So I'm not suggesting changing Actor Stance, for instance, but merely if what Actor Stance represents can be seen as being a certain combination of the 6 relationships I've outlined above, while Possessor Stance is a different combination, and Token stance is yet a different combination, etc. This will not only give some concrete justifications for the stances, but may also point to potential stances that haven't yet been labeled.
For example one of the key items about Actor Stance is expressing the character to the other players. This is the Character to Real World relationship in the Emotive mode coming into play. One of key items of Possessor stance is the player being absorbed in the character. This draws upon both the Player to Character relationship in First Person mode, and the Character to Game World relationship in IC info only mode. Jim's Dude stance can be seen as being primary based on the Player to Real World relationship being in the highly involved mode. It also draws upon the Character to Real World relationship in reverse, the Character is drawing from (empathizing with?) the Real World rather than emoting to it.
As to Intra game including both character and game worlds...again, I think the terms might be too broad. I see a need for seperating the two out because you can have one without the other, and I'm not seeing where they tie in with Directoral Power. As to an Intragame relation to Setting, I think this is primarily the Player to Character relationship being in the third person mode, and the Player to Game World relationship being in the Observer mode. This might be similar to Audience Stance. Anyway, I'm seeing a great deal of utility in defining stances in terms of these relationships. What do the rest of you think?
Re: GEN - Stances
M. J. Young (M. J. Young) 06/02/01 4:05 PM
Well, I missed a day, and for some reason all the old threads seem to be listing with new on top (the new threads have old on top)--which is a very strange way to try to read them. Hopefully that will correct itself over time.
Ralph, you wrote:
|Real World Level: At this level the player is interacting with the real world as much as he is interacting with the game world. I think alot of roleplaying groups play at this level. It is at this level where table talk about the baseball game is interspersed freely with with game events, and player's interject Monty Python quotes that they have no intention of their character's actually saying. At this level of play the character is pushed firmly into the third person to avoid confusion of "I" as player or "I" as character. At this level "I" means player, and "He" means character. I suspect this type of play is most common in Gamist games where immersion in the setting or in a character are not the primary points of enjoyment and where the prevelance of Token play can be found.|
|Lines from the player describe his interaction with the Game World (top) the Real World (bottom) and the Character (to the left). Lines from the Character describe its interaction with the Game World (top) the Real World (bottom) and the Player (right). I think now that every one of RFPA's stances (and perhaps even a few they hadn't thought of) can be defined in terms of these 6 relationships.|
--M. J. Young Check out Multiverser Index of my pages
Re: GEN - Stances
Valamir (Ralph Mazza) 06/02/01 4:54 PM
|I have played with some very gamist players; --but I don't think I have ever heard a player refer to his character as "he"....|
You've probably heard them say stuff like "My character is going to jump on the table", or "Grimgor will attack the priest", both 3rd person references to character. "He" is just the third person pronoun. Probably occurs more when the GM phrases questions like "What is Grimgor going to do?"---"He's going to attack the priest"; as opposed to "What are you going to do?"---"I'm going to attack the priest"....
|I'm not sure I understand how the "relationship of the player to the character" and the "relationship of the character to the player" are not really the same thing; but I'm trying to get through a lot of stuff, so maybe I just missed it.|
Well, the angle I'm working from is that the player's relationship to the character defines whether he plays that character from a first person or third person perspective. Kindof what we were talking about above. In PC games it would be the difference between Half Life and Balder's Gate. The reverse is character relating back to the player. That is when the character starts to take on a life of his own. When instead of the player deciding what the character is going to do, the player has gotten so into character that the character is telling him what to do. I've never had that happen to me personally, but I've heard many authors who claim that its happened to them when writing a novel...the character just comes to life and begins to write itself so to speak. I imagine that such is also possible in role playing games and if so, that's where it would fit in my diagram (Jim's mention of Seeker in the Explorationist thread might be referring to such a relationship)