The pitfalls of narrative technique in rpg play

This is going to rpg be theory stuff, just so you know.

A thing I’ve noticed lately specifically at Story Games, but also on other gaming fora, is the increased acceptance and advocation of narration authority sharing between players in a roleplaying game. It’s a nice technique, but I also find that it is being recommended and utilized in ways that might have unexpected consequences that need to be considered in depth. I’ll write a short treatise about the topic here – I don’t particularly want to piss in anybody’s cereals if they find that unrestrained sharing of narrative authority brings them happiness, but it’s not correct to call it the universal panacea of roleplaying, either – there are solid reasons for refusing to introduce this technique into every single game you might ever wish to play. Read the rest of this entry »

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What GNS theory claims

GNS theory is a part of this model of roleplaying developed by Ron Edwards that we call the Big Model. GNS is perhaps the most famous part of the overall theoretical framework, the most contested and the most used for different purposes. It’s also rarely understood very well, which makes it a worthwhile topic here. A discussion at Story Games convinced me that there is still a need for yet another introductory article – I’ll make a point of writing mine in a very exact and simple manner, perhaps it’ll be useful to somebody. Read the rest of this entry »

Roleplaying styles and Ville Vuorela

Ville Vuorela here suggests that I should analyze his play style as regards roleplaying games. Sure, why not? Of course my material is rather limited, as I haven’t played with Ville once – I’m limited to what he’s told about his play and postulating (read: guessing) based on historical context (read: how other folks in his age bracket and background seem to play). But before I go to that, a clarifying statement: I do not condone, and never have, the idea that auteur gamemasters should conveniently disappear from the roleplaying hobby. I might not like that gaming style and I might even consider it harmful in some manner or other on my worse days, but I’d like that to be read in the spirit of passionate commitment to improving the roleplaying hobby, not personal ill-will – it’s no skin off my nose how other people choose to have fun, and it’s great if they do, even if I sometimes grow exasperated by the effect I perceive them having on our common hobby. It’s that public common ground where our basement gaming groups interact and the common nature of our hobby is established where it’s often easy to wish that the other people would just go away and leave you alone to determine how roleplaying looks and feels to the world. Read the rest of this entry »