Selected Threads from rec.games.frp.advocacy
The following is a long list of rgfa threads over the
years, with a particular eye towards the development and discussion
of the Threefold Model.
Threefold Development: 1992 - 1998
Later Discussion: 1999+ (Added March 10, 2004)
Welcome to rec.games.frp.advocacy (May 27, 1992)
The start of the newsgroup
David Berkman's "New Diceless Roleplaying Game" thread (May 3, 1994)
An advertisement for the Theatrix game, but also the
introduction of David Berkman to the group, which immediately
lead to the multi-year "Diced vs Diceless" arguments.
John Kim's "Drama-based vs. World-based Resolution" (June 3, 1994)
This is an early post where I attempt to define the distinction
between Theatrix and most other RPGs. I express this as
"world-based" games (which resolve things on the basis of
in-game reality) and "drama-based" games (which resolve
things mainly on plot requirements and player description).
"Simulation vs Drama" thread (Feb 2, 1995)
An early thread illustrating the arguments between
dice-using/simulation and diceless/drama.
Term "simulationist" is first used (Feb 20, 1995)
This contrasts the dramatic diceless play of games like Theatrix
with the "simulationist" play of games which attempt to represent
the in-game reality.
Kevin Hardwick's "Strong vs Weakly Plotted RPGs" (Mar 1, 1995)
Critique and discussion about the use of environmental
improvisations (i.e. players defining parts of the world as
they are written), and also about refusing plots.
Mark Wallace's "Suspension of Disbelief" (May 21, 1995) and
"WBG vs SBG" (May 23, 1995)
Threads from Mark Wallace which attempt to classify games
as "world-based game" (WBG) vs "plot-based game" (PBG).
John Kim's "Continum of resolution - description to dice" (May 21, 1995)
This is a post criticizing Mark Wallace's proposal of a
continuum of games between "description based" and "dice based".
It suggests that any one-dimensional scheme is clearly
insufficient to describe the range of gaming styles, which
was generally agreed with.
Mark C. Wallace's "Theme based games" (July 7, 1995)
A proposed trialectic model dividing games into world-based,
plot-based, and theme-based. This was immediately modified by
Magnus Lie Hetland in the ensuing thread, but did not last as
Kevin Hardwick's "Narrative and Style" (July 11, 1995)
This is the post where Kevin first proposed the Four Narrative
Stance model of in-character, audience, actor, and
Sarah Kahn's "Re: Philosophies of Roleplaying & Design" (July 13, 1995)
A post describing the plot vs world as an "axis" in the space
of possible games. This idea of axes was later picked up by
Rodney Payne and Leon von Stauber.
John Kim's "Re: World vs. Plot, Incident vs. Event" (July 25, 1995)
A post illustrating some of the problems with the terminology of
world-based and plot-based, and growing dissatisfaction with them.
Alain Lapalme's "Drama vs Simulation" post (Aug 5, 1995)
In a thread where Alain proposes how he will approach a new
campaign, Rodney Payne contrasts the "Dramatic" and "Simulationist"
approach. This was one axis in his "campaign axes" model.
Gregory Hopper's Thread on "Simulationist Design" (Aug 17, 1995)
A thread where Kevin Hardwick and Mary Kuhner explain their styles of
plotting -- part of the dramatic vs simulation split.
Alain Lapalme's "FAQ and Glossary" (Aug 20, 1995)
This was soon revised after discussion in
FAQ - August 26
Leon von Stauber's Thread on Axes Model (Aug 24, 1995)
He defines a number of axes, defining simulation as:
"Simulationism is primarily characterized by a strongly
Natural style, usually associated with heavy World prep,
light Plot prep, light Drama, and a healthy dose of Realism."
Leon von Stauber's "Axes: Campaigns 1.1 (LONG)" (Oct 11, 1995)
A refinement of the original post.
John H Kim's "Simulationist Theory" (March 19, 1996) and
followup (March 20, 1996)
This was an attempt of mine to define stances about how
approaches to simulation vary. However, the model was quickly
lost in general arguments between the drama and simulation
advocates. In one post, I attempt to explain the
simulationist point-of-view. The followup has examples
from both Mary's and my simulation-oriented campaigns.
Neelakantan Krishnaswami's "FAQ" (May 6, 1996)
A modified version of a FAQ developed in 1995.
Kevin Hardwick's "Plotting--reply to Sarah (Greg Benage, please join us!)" (May 6, 1996)
More discussion of the role of play, and especially the relation
of whether story occurs in set scenes or in in-between action.
Bruce Baugh's "Against Method, or, The End Of All Typology" (May 18, 1996)
A thread where Bruce suggests a problem with the idea of a
complete typology of role-playing. However, there is general
agreement that while a complete and restrictive universal
taxonomy isn't our goal.
John H Kim's "Re: plot questions" (July 17, 1996) and
Mary Kuhner's "Re: plot questions" (July 25, 1996)
This was the post where I first formulated simulationism
as the rejection of meta-game interference, which was
reinforced by Mary Kuhner's post using the analogy of
dramatization of real-world events. This was disputed by
Kevin Hardwick and David Berkman, in a
John Kim's First FAQ Formulation (July 31, 1996)
It includes the term "simulationist" and the Rodney
Payne's campaign axis between "drama" and "simulation".
Raymond C. Park's "What Type of Game Is This? (LONG)" (August 13, 1996)
This was Raymond's challenge of the use of RGFA terminology
in analyzing a campaign. Various people attempted to illustrate
use of the concepts and terms in practice, as applied to his
John Kim's "Internal PC Challenges" (August 24, 1996)
This is a thread on issues with the IC stance which lead
to talk about "Deep IC".
Sarah Kahn's "IC Tools" thread (Sep 16, 1996)
This was a thread illustrating the term "deep IC" coming into
use to describe immersive role-playing.
John Kim's "GM Biases" thread and
(October 17, 1996)
A thread on what I called GM biases in results -- meaning
meta-game influences on resolution.
Genre and Believability (October 29, 1996)
Discussions over the role of genre in games, and especially
on the idea (promoted by Bruce Baugh and Robert Barrett)
that realism/simulation is itself a genre.
Barbara Robson's "14 Dimensions of RPGs" (November 19, 1996)
A post which had little impact at the time, in part due to poor
distribution. However, it may have been quite influential on
some subtle level. Primarily suggests a series of axes similar
to Leon Stauber and Rodney Payne's work. However, at the end it
has a question: "What is the motivational focus of the game?"
with a large triangle diagram whose corners are labelled
"Interactive Storytelling", "IC Experience", and "Problem-solving".
Russell Wallace's "Should magic be reliable?" (April 7, 1997)
A long discussion of magic. There is a branch on historical
magic systems which reflect the beliefs of the medieval world --
with Ars Magica being a debated case. There is also discussion
about whether magic can or should be subjected to scientific
Kevin Hardwick's "Proposal to retire the term "IC" in favor of "Immersion" (April 8, 1997)
A thread in which Kevin proposed to change his stances model to
"Immersive", "Actor", "Audience", and "Author". He proposed the
change as an alternative to the ad-hoc addition of a "Deep
In-Character" stance which was coming into use as a fifth
stance of a sort. Debate was mixed, though, and while good
points were made -- the change did not come into wide use.
Sarah Kahn's "Proposal to retire..." (April 28, 1997)
Sarah discusses the history of the Narrative Stances model,
which she developed from an original idea from Kevin Hardwick.
In this thread, Kevin attributes the definition of "simulationist"
to myself (John Kim).
John Kim's Definition of Simulation Thread (April 30, 1997)
Questioning the already-written FAQ definition of "simulationist".
In a reply, Jim Henley coined the terms "gamist" and "gamism".
Jim Henley's "Gamism and Simulationism" (May 1, 1997)
Early discussion of the concept of gamism as a goal, spurred
by a negative view of gamism.
Mary Kuhner's "gamist/simulationist: a practical example" (May 8, 1997)
This was started as a discussion of the relation of gamist and
simulationist concerns, using an example from Mary's campaign.
This developed a long discussion of what constitutes "fair play"
in a campaign with Rick Cordes.
Brad Thurkettle's "Fuzion by the cards" (May 15, 1997)
A long discussion about the use of plot/karma points, and how
they affected drama. In particular, the question was
whether their use was "gamist" by emphasizing resource
Steven Howard's "'Gamist' a pejorative?" (June 24, 1997)
A thread which discusses the current view of Gamism, and how
it relates to the other styles being discussed.
Mary Kuhner's "Threefold model" (July 1, 1997)
A thread started by Mary Kuhner, which attempted to distinguish
the three influences on GM decision-making. In message 31,
Irina Rempt illustrated this as a triangle with "World",
"Story", and "Challenge" as its vertices, placing a person's
gaming style as a dot on that triangle.
Brian Gleichman's "dark/heroic etc." (July 6, 1997)
This was the original formulation of Brian Gleichman's
"Interaction Model" for campaign morality, an attempt at a
ratings system for what is acceptable in a campaign. This
was also Brian's introduction to the newsgroup.
Brett Evill's "Why won't my players design a party?" (August 5, 1997)
A thread which highlighted differences over group behavior.
There was a distinct split over secrets, "sequestered play"
(i.e. one-on-one play with the GM), and group design of PCs.
Mark Grundy's "Threefold mismatch" (August 8, 1997)
A suggestion that the style of many games is determined by
interaction of different threefold orientations.
Brett evill's "What are characters for?" (May 2, 1998)
A thread questioning whether role-playing of characters with
separate personality is a part of the Gamist style.
Bruce Baugh's "Genre and Personality" thread (June 26, 1998)
A thread reviving the October 1996 debate over genre and
genre conventions. The initial suggestion was that there
was a link between liking personality mechanics and liking
'strong genre', but it came to question the issues of genre
and realism more broadly.
John H Kim's "New FAQ - Simulationist versus Plausible" (October 16, 1998)
This was the start of my attempt at an FAQ on the Threefold model,
which was initially phrased as a single question.
John H Kim's "More General Threefold FAQ" (October 18, 1998)
This was my attempt at a full FAQ section on explaining the
Justin Bacon's "Threefold = Misunderstanding" (Feb 16, 1999)
Started as an empty critique of the Threefold, but there were
useful comments from Neelakantan Krishnaswami on how the Threefold
doesn't work from him -- with discussion by Mary Kuhner, John Kim,
and others in response.
Stuart Barrow's "Combat in Narrative Resolution Systems"
(Jun 25 1999)
Discussion of freeform diceless combat such as Amber, leading
to contrast with other types of systems.
Allan Carey's "Diceless Roleplaying" (July 2, 1999)
A newcomer posting about story-oriented diceless play opened
up discussion of the utility of objective mechanics.
Mike Aetherson's "Railroading" (Sep 13, 1999)
Discussion about how GM attempts at conflict can be perceived
Peter Knutsen's "Consensus-based roleplaying?" (Nov 21, 1999)
Peter Knutsen asks an open question whether consensus-based
roleplaying is possible.
Dare's "Low-Conflict Gaming" (Nov 27, 1999)
A split from the idea of true consensus-based roleplaying to
the idea of low-conflict gaming, which naturally caused
discussion of what "conflict" means.
Brian Gleichman's "Long Term Character" (Dec 9, 1999)
Discussion of long-term
Nis Haller Baggesen's "Suggestions for a resolution mechanic (long)"
(Mar 8 2000)
Discussion of game design and action resolution systems.
Graham Wills' "Simulational extremism" (Mar 27, 2000)
Discussion which brings up potential problems of PC death and
failure in simulationist games.
Christopher Pound's "Re: Pentad [repost]" (Jun 15, 2000)
Peter Knutsen's "Any models competing with the Threefold?"
(Jun 8, 2000)
Discussion of an alternate "Pentad" model proposed by
James Ellis' "Gamism and Diceless play" (Nov 17, 2000)
This started by asking whether a Gamist player can be truly
satisfied in a diceless game, and mutated into a long discussion
of the objectivity of mechanics.
Bradd W. Szoyne's "Why we should define Simulationism in a
positive sense (Nov 30, 2000)
Bradd Szoyne's complaint that biased attitude lead to
denigration of non-pure-Simulationist styles, and discussion
of the cause of that.
David Alex Lamb's "3D threefold" (Dec 26, 2000)
Another argument of pre-threefold vs anti-threefold.
Rod Currie's "A question about story-style role-playing" (Jan 2, 2001)
A relative newcomer opened up questions of style.
Bradd Szonye's "Reward-in-play disadvantages" (May 12, 2001)
Discussion of reward-in-play disads and advantages, veering off
into general discussion of disadvantage mechanisms.
Brian Gleichman's "A quick revisit to the Social Axis" (Jun 4, 2001)
A more in-depth consideration to the idea of there being a
Social axis to the Threefold model, and how to distinguish it
from other priorities.
Brian Gleichman's "Key Question: Corner Ownership" (June 5, 2001)
Continued (and branched) discussion of the Social Axis question.
Clifford A. Anderson's "Game Contract" (Sep 21, 2001)
Discussion of negotiating game parameters between GM and
John Kim's "Mechanics for dramatic games" (Feb 5, 2002)
Discussion of a suggestion that mechanics in dramatic games have
two split purposes: "tranparent" and "inspirational".
Russell Wallace's "Simulationist doesn't exist" (Apr 5, 2002)
Comments on the suggestion that virtually all games are
GM-directed story, and that focus should be on how to do
DWB's "RPG quiz for new players" (May 15, 2002)
An attempt at a short, simple quiz to determine Threefold and
David Alex Lamb's "generic model of roleplaying" (Jun 23, 2002)
An attempt at a complete system of nomenclature for the parts
of role-playing and how it works.
Warren Dew's "Develop In Play" (Oct 8, 2002)
Discussion started on Warren's view of developing a
character in play (DIP).
John Kim's "Threefold Flamewars" (May 11, 2003)
An attempt to analyze why debate of the Threefold consistently
became so mired in disagreements and flamewars.
Larry Hols' "An old fogey's take on the Threefold" (May 14, 2003)
A retrospective from Larry Hol on the development of the Threefold.
Peter Knutsen's "Personality mechanics and stimuli magnitude"
(May 17, 2003)
Essentially a rehash of earlier disagreements over personality
Russell Wallace's "Simulationist versus Dramatist" (Dec 1, 2003)
A suggestion as to the cause of flamewars over the Threefold, and
in particular "why Simulationists are so prone to finding the
Threefold useless or a positive hindrance." Others responded
that the opposite is true: that on rgfa, Simulationists are the
most likely to support the Threefold and find it useful.
John H. Kim <jhkim-at-darkshire-dot-net>
Last modified: Tue Jul 11 16:16:35 2006