Measuring specific amounts of Peanut Butter and Chocolate

Okay, I can’t leave this alone yet, so… check it.
Let’s say we want to chart coherently Narrativist games on an x-y axis.
I’m going to arbitrarily make the x-axis the “RPG-ish” axis, and the y-axis the “Story-gamey” axis.
And the scale is… well, because of what I could think of (or crib) for criteria — 0 to 7 on both axis. You have seven criteria you check off for each axis, and that equates directly to the ‘score’ for that axis.
X-Axis: Protagonist-based
[ ] Strong person-to-character ownership
[ ] In-game currency tends to be character-specific
[ ] Story structure is largely focused through character POV.
[ ] Play structure tends toward scene/conflict
[ ] Use of task-resolution, or conflict resolution can ‘break down’ into higher-detail mode
[ ] Adversity mostly provided by one person (GM)
[ ] Limited narration distribution
Y-Axis: Story-based
[ ] Character ownership varies
[ ] In-game currency tends to be whole-group or player-specific
[ ] Story structure is largely focused at narrator-level POV.
[ ] Play structure tends towards “turns”
[ ] Conflict-resolution-based system.
[ ] Adversity-creation is distributed across participants.
[ ] Automatically distributed narration
As an example…


….I’ll do TSoY, since most folks know it.

TSoY
X-Axis: Protagonist-based
[X] Strong person-to-character ownership
[X] In-game currency tends to be character-specific
[X] Story structure is largely focused through character POV.
[X] Play structure tends toward scene/conflict
[X] Use of task-resolution, or conflict resolution can ‘break down’ into higher-detail mode
[X] Adversity mostly provided by one person (GM)
[ ] Limited narration distribution
Y-Axis: Story-based
[ ] Character ownership varies
[X] In-game currency tends to be whole-group or player-specific
[ ] Story structure is largely focused at narrator-level POV.
[ ] Play structure tends towards “turns”
[X] Conflict-resolution-based system.
[ ] Adversity-creation is distributed across participants.
[X] Automatically distributed narration (refreshment scenes)

Hmm. Okay, that’s maybe a bad example. Looking at Mortal Coil:

Mortal Coil
X-Axis: Protagonist-based
[X] Strong person-to-character ownership
[X] In-game currency tends to be character-specific (for some tokens)
[X] Story structure is focused through character POV.
[X] Play structure tends toward scene/conflict
[X] Use of task-resolution, or conflict resolution can ‘break down’ into higher-detail mode
[X] Adversity mostly provided by one person (GM)
[X] Limited and/or Specific narration distribution
Y-Axis: Story-based
[ ] Character ownership varies
[X] In-game currency tends to be whole-group or player-specific (for some tokens)
[X] Story structure is focused at narrator-level POV. (For theme document additions.)
[ ] Play structure tends towards “turns”
[X] Conflict-resolution-based system. (For theme document addtions.)
[X] Adversity-creation is distributed across participants. (For theme document additions.)
[X] Automatically distributed narration (For theme document additions… maybe.)

And you’ll see apparently contradictory things checked in there, because in some parts of the game, certain things are true, and in others, different things are.
And its squishy, a bit, in it’s definitions.
Anyway, just me thinking on the screen. Input welcome, stonings artfully dodged.
((Staving off a tangent: Don’t tell me you can put most of DnD on the x-axis. I know that, except for the fact that the x-axis is ‘elements that are used specifically to create thematic story’, and as we’ve said, DnD doesn’t have that Goal, so it can’t be charted on this thing. It would get all those checkboxes checked for a chart where the x-axis is ‘uses these elements to create tactically-challenging play.’))

6 Replies to “Measuring specific amounts of Peanut Butter and Chocolate”

  1. Okay, so these are (mostly?) paired items: something is X or Y (or, as you note, sometimes both). I think it would be worthwhile further explaining terms, or having the core concept in the middle, with checks on the left and right for protagonistic vs. collectivist storytelling (look at me making up fancy terms!).
    That having been said, and bearing in mind that some of these aren’t clear in my head (both the descriptors and the systems):
    Galactic
    X-Axis: Protagonist-based
    [X] Strong person-to-character ownership
    [X] In-game currency tends to be character-specific
    [X] Story structure is focused through character POV.
    [X] Play structure tends toward scene/conflict
    [X] Use of task-resolution, or conflict resolution can ‘break down’ into higher-detail mode
    [X] Adversity mostly provided by one person (GM)
    [X] Limited and/or Specific narration distribution
    Y-Axis: Story-based
    [ ] Character ownership varies
    [ ] In-game currency tends to be whole-group or player-specific
    [ ] Story structure is focused at narrator-level POV.
    [ ] Play structure tends towards “turns”
    [X] Conflict-resolution-based system.
    [X] Adversity-creation is distributed across participants. (crew)
    [ ] Automatically distributed narration
    ————-
    Shab al-Hiri Roach
    X-Axis: Protagonist-based
    [X] Strong person-to-character ownership
    [X] In-game currency tends to be character-specific
    [ ] Story structure is focused through character POV.
    [X] Play structure tends toward scene/conflict
    [ ] Use of task-resolution, or conflict resolution can ‘break down’ into higher-detail mode
    [ ] Adversity mostly provided by one person (GM)
    [ ] Limited and/or Specific narration distribution
    Y-Axis: Story-based
    [X] Character ownership varies (NPC roles)
    [ ] In-game currency tends to be whole-group or player-specific
    [X] Story structure is focused at narrator-level POV.
    [ ] Play structure tends towards “turns”
    [X] Conflict-resolution-based system.
    [X] Adversity-creation is distributed across participants.
    [X] Automatically distributed narration
    ————-
    Nobilis
    X-Axis: Protagonist-based
    [X] Strong person-to-character ownership
    [X] In-game currency tends to be character-specific
    [X] Story structure is focused through character POV.
    [ ] Play structure tends toward scene/conflict
    [X] Use of task-resolution, or conflict resolution can ‘break down’ into higher-detail mode
    [X] Adversity mostly provided by one person (GM)
    [X] Limited and/or Specific narration distribution
    Y-Axis: Story-based
    [X] Character ownership varies (NPC roles)
    [X] In-game currency tends to be whole-group or player-specific
    [ ] Story structure is focused at narrator-level POV.
    [X] Play structure tends towards “turns”
    [ ] Conflict-resolution-based system.
    [ ] Adversity-creation is distributed across participants.
    [ ] Automatically distributed narration
    Note that I’m still fuzzy enough on some of the terms that I’d be happy to be proven wildly mistaken in any of these. Well, if not happy, then accepting.

  2. I’m going to tweak these, below:
    Galactic
    [X] Use of task-resolution, or conflict resolution can ‘break down’ into higher-detail mode
    Galactic is pretty much straight conflict narration — I don’t know if it ever really drills down much. One roll (of a pile of dice) settles the whole conflict (barring rerolls that you can invoke in with your Contacts, so maybe that counts.)
    [ ] In-game currency tends to be whole-group or player-specific
    The use of the ‘fan-mail’ for doing cool things with any of your Crew members is… hmm. Nope. That’s character-based, still. It can’t be floated into other die-pools.
    Interesting: Hazard is a whole-group currency. I roll it up based on each World, but then I pool it and can use it anywhere.
    [ ] Story structure is focused at narrator-level POV.
    There is some of this when you set up the next worlds and such — it gets very meta-.
    [X] Adversity-creation is distributed across participants. (crew)
    Also, anyone can invoke the World Qualities to help or screw with a Captain.
    As for that… the fact that everyone adds Qualities to each World is part of adding Adversity.
    [ ] Automatically distributed narration
    There is some points at which non-GM people narrate, specifically when invoking Contacts, when invoking Crew members, and when invoking World Qualities. It’s not ALL automatically distributed, but a good chunk of it is.
    Oh yeah… whoever wins/fails a conflict determines who narrates the next scene for that Captain — it’s only the GM about half the time. Definitely gets a checkbox. You wouldn’t have thought of this, because we haven’t done the second set of scenes yet. (SUNDAY! WOO!)
    Conclusion: Galactic is a real hybrid.
    ————-
    Shab al-Hiri Roach
    [X] In-game currency tends to be character-specific
    Can you get reputation without your actual character being in the scene? Nope. Good call.
    [X] Play structure tends toward scene/conflict
    This one is definitely a hybrid — there’s a strong ‘everyone gets a turn, regardless of current conflicts’ thing going on as well, though each turn results in a scene/conflict.
    ————-
    Nobilis
    I think it’s very interesting that you included this, Dave, but while it’s not an coherently Narr game, like HeroQuest it can be “coherently drifted” into a Narr-game, which is totally what I was doing by about half-way through the game.
    [X] In-game currency tends to be whole-group or player-specific
    What are you… oh yeah! The … whatcha call it… the Chancel Points! Good call.
    [X] Play structure tends towards “turns”
    I’m not sure this is true, but I’ll explain why in another reply.
    Aside from that — yeah, totally. Explanations of terms to follow.

  3. Okay, I’m just going to give some examples, trying to stick with stuff we know:
    ————————————————————-
    [ ] Strong person-to-character ownership Vs. [ ] Character ownership varies
    DitV vs. Capes
    ————————————————————-
    [ ] In-game currency tends to be character-specific vs. [ ] In-game currency tends to be whole-group or player-specific

    Sorcerer uses the term ‘currency’ alot… or at least Ron does, and it’s all very character specific. Capes has all kinds of Currency, but it all flows to the player, not the character, because the character in some ways is kind of ephemeral.
    ————————————————————-
    [ ] Story structure is largely focused through character POV. vs. [ ] Story structure is largely focused at narrator-level POV.
    I think this is pretty self-explanatory, but it’s pretty much Sorcerer/TSoY/DitV vs. something like Capes play.
    ————————————————————-
    [ ] Play structure tends toward scene/conflict vs. [ ] Play structure tends towards “turns”
    Scene/Conflict is what we’re used to in most of the games we’ve been playing. Capes is totally turn-based in a board-game/card-game way. There are conflicts that get resolved, but play progresses VERY SPECIFICALLY through turns.
    ————————————————————-
    [ ] Use of task-resolution, or conflict resolution can ‘break down’ into higher-detail mode VS. [ ] Conflict-resolution-based system.
    Task resolution is DnD, basically. With that as an example, Sorcerer and Burning Wheel does some of that, and some Conflict resolution… Sorcerer sort of does Multiple Conflicts until you Give Up or you’re Out… it’s like that.
    TSoY starts out as Conflict Resolution, and can break into task resolution (Bringing Down the Pain) when you want more detail, or to contest the Conflict Resolution Result. Heroquest does something similar. Trollbabe breaks it down with rerolls.
    Primetime Adventures is totally Conflict resolution. Period. Currency can be used to tweak the result, but can’t be used to break it down into sub-actions.
    ————————————————————-
    [ ] Adversity mostly provided by one person (GM) vs.
    [ ] Adversity-creation is distributed across participants.

    This is pretty self-explanatory, and you seemed to get it in the analysis you did.
    Adversity from the other players works (no ‘soft-balling’ when it’s handled the same way that boardgames and card games handle it — I am motivated to give you a hard time because it benefits ME, so I will not slow-pitch it. Capes does do a nice job of rewarding EVERYONE after a conflict, so there are no hard feelings.
    Shab al-Hiri Roach makes you want to get people back, but that totally works, for that game. 🙂
    ————————————————————-
    [ ] Limited narration distribution VS. [ ] Automatically distributed narration

    Automatically distributed narration doesn’t mean, as I think you might have read, “all narration is automatically distributed out to everyone.”
    What I mean is “there are rules surrounding who narrates, because the same person doesn’t always do it, and when those rules kick in, it’s automatic.”
    So it’s “limited change in narrator… or it’s a social contract thing” vs. “Specific rules governing who narrates what, and when.”
    PTA does this. Galactic does… quite a bit, with regards to naming your next scene.
    Shab al-Hiri always does (high roll narrates).
    Dust Devils is fun, cuz High Roll Wins, but Low Roll narrates… it’s one of the first of these games to do that, though it’s otherwise very close to Sorcerer on the chart.
    In TSoY, you narrate your own refreshment scenes, and that tends to lead to a social-contract-level agreement with regards to making it okay to say “I want my next to scene to be me and my sister, back at home, arguing about …”
    Etc. etc.

  4. I’m going to tweak these, below:
    I expected nothing less. And, again, bearing in mind that I’ve played Roach once once Galactic twice (and one of those was chargen), I doubtless have forgotten details.
    Galactic is pretty much straight conflict narration — I don’t know if it ever really drills down much. One roll (of a pile of dice) settles the whole conflict (barring rerolls that you can invoke in with your Contacts, so maybe that counts.)
    No, I couldn’t remember if a given G. scene did one roll or several items. I now remember, and agree with what you say.
    [ ] Story structure is focused at narrator-level POV.
    There is some of this when you set up the next worlds and such — it gets very meta-.

    True. There’s that whole collaborative piece. But, then, I consider that “prep,” not “play,” though it’s fun (and an artificial distinction).
    [ ] Automatically distributed narration
    There is some points at which non-GM people narrate, specifically when invoking Contacts, when invoking Crew members, and when invoking World Qualities. It’s not ALL automatically distributed, but a good chunk of it is.

    A good point. I hadn’t thought of the crew members as being distributed narration (more like “minor player characters”), but since they are part of a player character’s story …
    Oh yeah… whoever wins/fails a conflict determines who narrates the next scene for that Captain — it’s only the GM about half the time. (SUNDAY! WOO!)
    Good point.
    Conclusion: Galactic is a real hybrid.
    So it should get great mileage, right?
    ————-
    [X] Play structure tends toward scene/conflict
    This one is definitely a hybrid — there’s a strong ‘everyone gets a turn, regardless of current conflicts’ thing going on as well, though each turn results in a scene/conflict.

    If I had to choose between, I’d choose this one; folks get turns within scenes (or, well, only insofar as is necessary for them to declare their side and put down chips and dice, plus whatever RP is done).
    Nobilis
    I think it’s very interesting that you included this, Dave, but while it’s not an coherently Narr game, like HeroQuest it can be “coherently drifted” into a Narr-game, which is totally what I was doing by about half-way through the game.

    Well, I knew I couldn’t talk about any D20 games … (ducks)
    [X] Play structure tends towards “turns”
    I’m not sure this is true, but I’ll explain why in another reply.

    Not being clear exactly what’s meant by turns, my point here was that the players tend to scatter and their actions tend to be off and separate, so there’s a fair amount of “… and he drops over dead at your feet, Mariska. Sian! You’re back on Earth, mooning after Haley. What are you doing now?” I call that “turns.”

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