2005-02-07 : Archive 171


-How people can use creative limitations(focus the elements) to add momentum and direction to play("You're all Dogs!") and what that means for players, for GMs, and the group as a whole

Say more! I could list some games that do the "you're all Dogs!" thing, but you've already thought about that. I could also say that creative limitations add momentum and direction to play, but you've already thought of that too!

What does it mean for players, GMs, and groups as a whole?

1. On 2005-02-07, Chris said:

Hi Vincent-

I don't know if anyone has looked into how focusing different elements produces different results(such as, character vs. setting vs. situation)? Obviously a lot of mainstream games have focused elements on setting, color or character, and I'd like to think all games have focused system...

Anyone already done a comparative breakdown? Or ideas?


2. On 2005-02-07, Keith, Goat Master said:

What does it mean for players, GMs, and groups as a whole?

It means no awkward jumping off points for the group as a whole. It means a clear understanding of what is expected of everyone 'cause you know what the deal is from the onset. At least that is what I think...


3. On 2005-02-07, Tim Alexander said:

It focuses Social Contract, and it eliminates debate that could otherwise become cumbersome. It facilitates a tightly shared picture by narrowing the field, and is an incredibly useful tool to cut through a lot of the mixed assumptions that go on in other games. When a design doesn't take this route, and also doesn't help prescribe ways of getting to that social consensus you can very easily find yourself in a group that isn't sharing a similar vision to move from. Building on that sort of shaky foundation is a recipe for disaster, and narrowed focus allows for a shortcut.



4. On 2005-02-07, Emily Care said:

Hey Chris: I'm almost done with an essay that breaks down collaborative play based on rules used in (4 of the 5) elements. Not exactly the same thing, but towards a similar goal. More to come.

On the question:what it means to me is creating coherent expectations among the players. And a structure upon which to improvize.

Look at Trollbabe. 1 type of character, with situation embedded (in character). All trollbabes exist at the interstice between human and troll societies and conflicts, so where ever they go, conflict follows them. Dogs has a similar thing with the gm advice to determine what each npc wants from the dogs.

In these two games, character type is the limitation. In a sense, any provided setting is a creative limitation since it defines the parameters of the background, which will inform the conflict. Is that too broad? How narrow is useful? What else would fit this term?


5. On 2005-02-07, Dave Ramsden said:

Some suggestions... Forgive the Forgespeak, it is the only language I currently have for discussing this stuff.

Constraints on Character = Constraints on the manner in which you will view and address your premises.Constraints on System = Constraints on the shape which your method of dealing with the premises will takeConstraints on Setting = Constraints on what external shape the premises in need of addressing will takeConstraints on Situation = Constraints on what premises you are going to address.Constraints on Color = Constraints on what aspects of any given premise you want to bring out

For instance, DitV:

Characters: As Dogs, you're expected to be addressing the problems you run into as messengers of the King of Life with great personal authority, according to your personal interpretation of that authority and your creed.System: The system presents you with the option of remaining nonviolent but provides incentives to escalate to violence because it is more convenient.Setting: The church authority and overall social setting determines the ways in which the various conflicts will be expressed - the idea of proper responsibility, proper conduct, conflicts with secular authorities, etc.Situation: Each town presents a unique situation but one founded in the breakdown of the proper order of things among tightly-knit people.Color: The minutiae emphasize the fact that people can be responsible others' downfall, that faith and righteousness are the chief weapons against any problem, and that when all else fails violence is an acceptable answer (among other things).

I think that these things bleed into each other, but mostly in the ways that the elements themselves do (for instance, System bleeds into Setting where it reflects the aspect of the world that includes 'violence can give you a powerful edge').


6. On 2005-02-07, Chris said:

Hi Dave-

Wow. That's exactly what I was looking for. It might be worthwhile to check out some of the different effects of focusing one vs. another, or what combos, but that can wait. I think I'll take your definition of it and do some observation and see what trends show up.

Emily-Cool, I look forward to reading it.



7. On 2005-02-10, Chris said:

Further thoughts on this can be found here:

Though it seems developed, its open to more input.


8. On 2005-02-10, Chris said:

Actually, this is a better link: