2009-04-09 : Scale, Depth, Clouds, Dice
In my imagination, a rule is like if you take a nail and scratch a line in dry dirt, and what people actually do is like where the water actually runs. Some water will run down the line you scratched, because you scratched it. Other water will run down the line you scratched but would have run there even if you hadn't. Other water will go wherever it goes. And (and here this picture breaks down, now I'm talking about bizarro-world water) some water will respond perversely to your line, bouncing off of it or testing its limits or sliding around it or flowing in the opposite direction out of plain orneriness.
So: I open a rpg book at random and read a rule. In this case, it's HoL: Human Occupied Landfill, page 36, and it's actually 2 rules:
Rag on: If, during the clever reparteé that accompanies (or
accompany) tearing the entrails out of your foes, the HoLmeister and other players are particularly amused (to the point, perhaps, of soiling their garments, hmmm?) by one of your witicisms (that means "jokes") the HM may (if you kneel and plead of their merciful judgment / buy them a case) give you (or should I say deign to appease? Maybe I should just get on with it...) a bonus to pummel on your next turn. If the HM fails to offer a good comeback, he must add 1 to the Grace of God pool (group's decision).
I can map those 2 rules out using my little diagrams if I want. In the simplified terms my diagrams require, they're straightforward:
If your character makes funny reparteé in a fight, the HM can give you a pummel bonus.
...And if the HM's character doesn't make a good enough comeback, the HM must give the group 1 GoG.
If you want to talk about those rules in any more detail, like if you want to distinguish between a bonus to pummel and a GoG point, or between "the HM may" and "group decision," or between "the HM may" and "the HM should", or between "funny reparteé" and "feeble reparteé" my little diagrams won't do it. THIS DOES NOT MEAN THAT I THINK THAT A GAME'S RULES ARE AS SIMPLE AS MY LITTLE DIAGRAMS. Obviously they're not.
And if you want to talk about what people actually do, about where the water actually flows not about the line scratched in the dirt, my little diagrams won't do it. THIS DOES NOT MEAN THAT I THINK THAT WHAT PEOPLE ACTUALLY DO IS AS SIMPLE AS MY LITTLE DIAGRAMS OR AS SIMPLE AS A GAME'S RULES. Obviously they're not.
However, if what you want to talk about is where a game's rules refer materially to purely fictional things, vs where they refer materially to real-world things, I think my diagrams will do fine.
I'm excited to talk about all of those things! For instance, Jonathan, I'm not suggesting any of the things you put in my mouth here. I think that all your observations about play are sound, but my little diagrams just don't show those kinds of details.
I see a certain danger, already coming true, that people are going to misapply my diagrams and then conclude that they have well-based objections to them. I hope this post heads that danger off, at least a little!
Next up: a post about this one:
1. On 2009-04-09, Vincent said:
2. On 2009-04-09, StompyMcD said:
3. On 2009-04-09, Vincent said:
4. On 2009-04-09, Brand Robins said:
5. On 2009-04-09, Ben Lehman said:
6. On 2009-04-09, Jonathan Walton said:
7. On 2009-04-09, misuba said:
8. On 2009-04-09, Julie, aka jrs said:
9. On 2009-04-10, Callan said:
10. On 2009-04-10, Larry L said:
11. On 2009-04-10, Callan said: