2005-03-23 : Archive 195
Resolution. When is it about resolving conflict between players? When is it about providing adversity? Does it matter? What else is it about?
It's never about resolving conflict between players, you have to look up from the game to do that. That's why the old "cops and robbers but with rules to prevent fights" line is bogus. If we were really fighting, game rules wouldn't stand in our way. Instead of "I shot you!" "Did not!" we'd have "I get +2 for surprise!" "Do not!" A profitless substitution, fighting over the rules' application instead of fighting over outcomes.
No, game rules in general are for when we're already in full agreement with one another. Resolution no less than any other kind of rule. So ... what, then?
One of the initial steps in every single resolution is for us all to buy in to the list of possible outcomes. By the time we determine which outcome is the outcome, we've all pre-agreed to it and we're all willing to accept it.
Resolution as such, then, is almost an afterthought. The real negotiations, the real work, happens just before resolution, when we say "what's at stake, now? are we going to roll for it or what? how bad could it conceivably turn out, and are you willing to accept that if it happens? am I?" Once we've hammered all that out, then we go forward with deciding which outcome, already in full agreement.
I may have my favorite, you may have yours, but we're all willing to accept any of them. Otherwise we wouldn't be resolving yet, we'd still be narrowing the range.
That's resolution from the point of view of the player as a participant in this social thing we do.
Adversity, though! We have to look at resolution from a whole different point of view to see adversity.
Here you have a passionate character in a dynamic situation, right? Let's say it's a ten year old girl, she's a tough pretty manipulative survivor kid, and a sadistic DA has just this very minute murdered her drug dealer father and her mother and her two siblings, he's still in the apartment and she's coming down the hallway with groceries, and at the end of the hallway lives a mob hitman who's been watching the whole thing and with whom our character has had a single positive interaction in the past, and the sadistic DA looks at her as she walks past and wheels are turning in his head.
This situation will, very soon, become a new situation; that's what dynamic means. It's not stable as it is, she can't keep walking down that hallway forever.
Resolution is when one situation resolves into a new situation. The new situation is dynamic too, so it resolves into another new situation, and another, and another, and another ... until finally we land in a stable situation, demanding no more resolution, and we roll credits.
The process of resolving one situation into the next may be very immediate, one decision made, one single conflict, one instant and everything changes, like does Leon take her in? It may instead unfold slowly, over the course of many conflicts and scenes, like does Leon teach her to shoot people? When we talk about "resolution" we usually mean it per conflict, not per situation. That's fine, because resolving a situation is the exact same thing as resolving a conflict or a series of related conflicts.
A dynamic situation is made of unresolved conflicts. Resolve the conflicts and you've automatically resolved the situation. "We resolve this dynamic situation into a new dynamic situation" is the exact same thing as "resolving these conflicts spawns a whole new set of conflicts for us to deal with."
So adversity! Since a conflict is made of adversity, creating adversity means creating or heightening conflict, and resolving a conflict means disposing of its adversity, one way or the other. The character faces the adversity, that's conflict, and overcomes or succumbs to the adversity, that's the conflict's resolution.
The adversity Matilda's facing is Leon's self-preservation instinct and the wheels turning in the DA's head. Who wins?
And that's resolution from the point of view of the player as a creator of fiction.
Bring the two views of resolution together and what do you get? Oh baby.
"One of the initial steps in every single resolution is for us all to buy in to the list of possible outcomes." One of the initial steps in every single resolution is for us all to buy in to the list of possible changes to this existing situation.
"...Then we go forward with deciding which outcome..." Then we go forward with deciding what new situation this situation becomes.
Does Leon take Matilda in? Does the DA grab her first, so Leon has to come out of his apartment with his gun to fight for her? Does Leon not, and she has to break away from the DA and run down the stairs and out into the street, alone? Does the DA grab her and haul her back into her family's apartment? Any of those is possible, each is a new dynamic situation, none is automatically a story killer.
Matilda (tough pretty manipulative survivor kid) vs. Leon's self-preservation instinct vs. the wheels in Gary Oldman's head. We all agree that any of the three might win, and whichever wins, the story goes forward in that direction. Then we resolve!
1. On 2005-03-23, xenopulse said:
2. On 2005-03-23, Vincent said:
3. On 2005-03-23, luke said:
4. On 2005-03-23, Chris said:
5. On 2005-03-24, xenopulse said:
6. On 2005-03-24, luke said:
7. On 2005-03-24, Charles said:
8. On 2005-03-24, Judd said:
9. On 2005-03-24, Vincent said:
10. On 2005-03-29, Ben Lehman said:
11. On 2005-03-30, Vincent said: