thread: 2006-10-05 : Escalation

On 2006-10-06, Vincent wrote:

David: Assuming second-type escalation happens in role-playing, where a player escalates an issue that he thinks is irrelevant to another, and is surprised when it turns out not to be, is this sort of escalation always a sign of dysfunction?

No, not at all.

I see three cases:

1) A player escalates against another player outside of the rules. If this ever happens, at all, it's an automatic sign of dysfunction. Players only escalate against one another this way when there's a conflict of interest between them at a social level; this is ALWAYS game-breaking. Game-breaking now or game-breaking later. A player escalating outside of the rules looks like this:

"I stab him!"
"You what? If you do, I'm not sharing my Fritos."
"Dude screw you. I stab him TWICE and pee on his CORPSE!"
"I'm leaving!"
"Fine, go! But don't expect me to call you for that thing tomorrow!"

2) A player has her character escalate surprisingly. This looks like this:

"A little girl runs up and throws a rock at you. 'Go home Dogs!'"
"I shoot her in the face."

3) A player escalates surprisingly within the rules, but out of character. This looks like your Balance of Power example.

These latter two are not a sign of dysfunction. I mean, they don't rule out dysfunction or anything like that, but there's no reason to conclude dysfunction from them. Either of them might be a brilliant moment of revelation instead, for instance, where everyone's rocked back and they all go "ooooh..."

"You'll shoot a little girl over throwing a rock? Holy crap dude, you're HARDCORE." Nothing dysfunctional about that.


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