FAQ

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Warren J. Dew

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May 3, 2003, 12:48:53 AM5/3/03
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Q. What's a FAQ?

A. FAQ stands for Frequently Asked Questions. Newsgroup FAQs usually contain
questions frequently asked in the newsgroup, along with their answers, to save
the regulars the bother of having to answer the same questions all the time.

Q. How come there are two FAQs here?

A. The regulars in this newsgroup enjoy productive discussions with newbies,
and don't mind answering their questions. We figured that giving you two sets
of conflicting answers will help you get started on the questions. Besides, we
haven't found the off switch yet on the bot that posts the other FAQ.

Q. What do you discuss in here?

A. The topic of this newsgroup, by charter, is flame wars about which game
system is best. Since we don't like flaming, we pretty much stick to off topic
discussion. We especially stick to off topic discussion about roleplaying
games, and sometimes develop theoretical models to help understand them. Two
of these models are the narrative stances model and the threefold.

Q. What's the narrative stances model?

A. The narrative stances are Actor, Author, Audience, and Character.
Character stance is not the same thing as "in character". A related subject is
immersive play.

Q. That didn't exactly answer my question. Can you give me a better answer on
the threefold?

A. Challenge
/\
/ \
/ \
/ \
/ \
/ \
/ \
/ \
/ \
Story ---------------- World

Q. That was even less useful than the last answer! How do I get answers that
are actually useful?

A. Post your questions. Then you'll get answers from actual human beings
instead of a canned post.

Peter Knutsen

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May 3, 2003, 5:23:22 AM5/3/03
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Warren J. Dew wrote:

> Q. How come there are two FAQs here?
>
> A. The regulars in this newsgroup enjoy productive discussions with newbies,
> and don't mind answering their questions. We figured that giving you two sets
> of conflicting answers will help you get started on the questions. Besides, we
> haven't found the off switch yet on the bot that posts the other FAQ.

Q: Why don't you provide the answers that conflict with those in John
Kim's FAQ, then?

Awaiting your A.

--
Peter Knutsen

Magnus Lie Hetland

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May 5, 2003, 4:53:48 PM5/5/03
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In article <3EB38A8A...@knutsen.dk>, Peter Knutsen wrote:
>
>
>Warren J. Dew wrote:
>
>> Q. How come there are two FAQs here?
>>
>> A. The regulars in this newsgroup enjoy productive discussions
>> with newbies, and don't mind answering their questions. We figured
>> that giving you two sets of conflicting answers will help you get
>> started on the questions. Besides, we haven't found the off switch
>> yet on the bot that posts the other FAQ.

You haven't? I received an email from you just a couple of days ago
where you asked me to stop posting it... ;)

I've emailed John H. Kim to hear his opinion (i'm just posting it as a
favour to him), but I have temporarily disabled the posting.

Is it the general opinion of this newsgroup that I should stop posting
it? I haven't been following the group very diligently lately, but I
hadn't noticed any loud outcries; however, judging from Warren's
email, it's been the object of may flame wars, and does no longer
reflect the vocabulary of the newsgroup.

IIRC, people never really agreed about much on this newsgroup, so that
might not be all that new ;) but if the FAQ is more of a nuisance than
a source of information, I probably should stop posting it. (It would
still be available on the Web, at John's site.)

Opinions?

--
Magnus Lie Hetland "If you can't take a joke, you have no business
http://hetland.org having a heart condition!" Igor, Dork Tower

Larry D. Hols

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May 5, 2003, 5:11:17 PM5/5/03
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Hallo,

> Is it the general opinion of this newsgroup that I should stop posting
> it? I haven't been following the group very diligently lately, but I
> hadn't noticed any loud outcries; however, judging from Warren's
> email, it's been the object of may flame wars, and does no longer
> reflect the vocabulary of the newsgroup.

I suspect that having more than one FAQ available could be a very good
thing, actually, so I'd like to see you continue posting one. If John's
FAQ is a bit long in the tooth, perhaps he'd like to revise it a bit or
allow somebody else to work his material in their own creation and offer
it up for posting. I think a new look at FAQ material is certainly in
order, on the one hand, and on the other hand, the historical context
provided by John's FAQ can prove useful.


Larry

Warren J. Dew

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May 6, 2003, 12:21:56 AM5/6/03
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Larry Hols posts regarding John's FAQ:

I suspect that having more than one FAQ available could be a
very good thing, actually, so I'd like to see you continue
posting one.

I don't guarantee to continue posting mine. It was intended as much as a joke
as anything, and I'm really very bad at doing anything consistently. Recall
also that my newsreader doesn't see Magnus' FAQ postings, so I'll tend to
forget that they are being posted.

Magnus, can I suggest that you read through the last month or so's worth of
posts on the threefold? I think you'll see where a newbie managed to get into
some rather heated arguments as a result of misconceptions from reading John's
FAQ, resulting in killfiling by regulars of what I considered to be a promising
newbie. (Not that the FAQ is necessarily wrong, but that it can easily be
misconstrued in the absence of discussion.)

Having it continue to be available as a web, as a resource we could point to
for those who are interested in history on the subject, would probably be a
good idea.

Warren J. Dew
Powderhouse Software

John Kim

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May 6, 2003, 12:42:40 PM5/6/03
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psych...@aol.com (Warren J. Dew) wrote:
> Magnus, can I suggest that you read through the last month or so's worth of
> posts on the threefold? I think you'll see where a newbie managed to get into
> some rather heated arguments as a result of misconceptions from reading John's
> FAQ, resulting in killfiling by regulars of what I considered to be a promising
> newbie. (Not that the FAQ is necessarily wrong, but that it can easily be
> misconstrued in the absence of discussion.)

Hello. I had posted a new thread on this on Sunday but somehow I
didn't seem to get distribution. Anyhow, I'd be willing to drop
posting my FAQ, but I'd like to hear a few more opinions. As far as I
know right now, Larry Hols is apparently for keeping it, Warren and
Charlton are against.

I find it bizarre that you would want to remove information in
order to help newbies. My FAQ may be out of date, it seems to me that
without it, newbies will have even more misunderstandings (i.e.
"What's this Gamism thing? [...someone replies...] Hey, that's just
like in this campaign I played in."). Obviously, the ideal would be
if someone worked at creating a more up-to-date FAQ, but failing that,
do you really think that it is better to rely on off-the-cuff
explanations and random usage?

I haven't read the entire thread, but as far as I see, Adrian has
been very polite, communicated fairly well, and quickly acknowledged
that the difference between current usage and my older FAQ explanation
once it was pointed out. As I see it, the problem was that he wanted
to discuss things (i.e. "*Why* do you only use Threefold terms for
motivation?"), and others wanted him to simply accept it as canon.

- John

Charlton Wilbur

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May 6, 2003, 2:28:32 PM5/6/03
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jh...@darkshire.org (John Kim) writes:

> Hello. I had posted a new thread on this on Sunday but somehow I
> didn't seem to get distribution. Anyhow, I'd be willing to drop
> posting my FAQ, but I'd like to hear a few more opinions. As far as I
> know right now, Larry Hols is apparently for keeping it, Warren and
> Charlton are against.
>
> I find it bizarre that you would want to remove information in

> order to help newbies. [...] Obviously, the ideal would be if


> someone worked at creating a more up-to-date FAQ, but failing that,
> do you really think that it is better to rely on off-the-cuff
> explanations and random usage?

I like the FAQ, and I think it served a purpose. But I think it
doesn't currently reflect the way the terminology is currently used,
and there are parts of it (such as the confusion between intent and
outcome with the Threefold) that are actively damaging, as we've seen.

The real problem is that inaccurate information is worse than no
information, and the usages of rgfa have changed much in the past
couple years. Your hypothetical newbie, confused about gamism (from a
part of your post I snipped) is one problem; but we have a concrete
example of the other problem, which is why we're discussing this at
all. I suspect I'd prefer a horde of newbies with no concept of what
the Threefold is to a horde of newbies who have a muddled concept of
what the Threefold is and who insist in rehashing old flamewars.

I've thought about volunteering to organize a revision of the FAQ, but
I fear that I am already overcommitted for the next couple of months.
But I think I'll make the offer -- if enough people think that an
updated FAQ is a good idea, and if John doesn't want to take on the
project, then I'd be happy to coordinate, consolidate, and edit.

> I haven't read the entire thread, but as far as I see, Adrian has
> been very polite, communicated fairly well, and quickly acknowledged
> that the difference between current usage and my older FAQ explanation
> once it was pointed out. As I see it, the problem was that he wanted
> to discuss things (i.e. "*Why* do you only use Threefold terms for
> motivation?"), and others wanted him to simply accept it as canon.

The problem I saw was that he insisted on treating the FAQ as canon,
rather than the usage in the group, and he insisted on covering old
ground that's already well-charred from several YEARS of Threefold
flamewars. Several people explained to him exactly why the Threefold
was used to discuss intent rather than outcome -- to wit, that intent
doesn't always match outcome; that the Threefold was created to
discuss differences in intent; that using the same terminology to
discuss outcomes or to conflate outcome with intent would be imprecise
at best, confusing most of the time, and incendiary at worst; and that
this issue that he insisted in pursuing had been the subject of
several flamewars in the past -- and he continued to insist that he
would use it for outcome rather than intent because his interpretation
of the FAQ allowed him to do so.

Charlton


Beowulf Bolt

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May 6, 2003, 4:19:05 PM5/6/03
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John Kim wrote:
>
> Anyhow, I'd be willing to drop
> posting my FAQ, but I'd like to hear a few more opinions. As far as I
> know right now, Larry Hols is apparently for keeping it, Warren and
> Charlton are against.

Here's another vote for keeping the FAQ. It desperately needs
updating (and says so right up front), but still contains a lot that
would be of value.

Biff

--
-------------------------------------------------------------------
"Me? Lady, I'm your worst nightmare - a pumpkin with a gun.
[...] Euminides this! " - Mervyn, the Sandman #66
-------------------------------------------------------------------

Halzebier

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May 6, 2003, 4:53:18 PM5/6/03
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On Tue, 06 May 2003 18:28:32 GMT, Charlton Wilbur
<cwi...@mithril.chromatico.net> wrote:

>I've thought about volunteering to organize a revision of the FAQ, but
>I fear that I am already overcommitted for the next couple of months.
>But I think I'll make the offer -- if enough people think that an
>updated FAQ is a good idea, and if John doesn't want to take on the
>project, then I'd be happy to coordinate, consolidate, and edit.

John's FAQ is still an excellent resource and much appreciated. I'm
definitely in favour of regular re-posting, but of course, a revision
would be very welcome, too.

And while the FAQ may have contributed to the flamewar surrounding
Adrian, I think that it was not the main problem.

Regards,

Hal

Larry D. Hols

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May 6, 2003, 5:30:06 PM5/6/03
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Hallo,

> I find it bizarre that you would want to remove information in
> order to help newbies. My FAQ may be out of date, it seems to me that
> without it, newbies will have even more misunderstandings (i.e.
> "What's this Gamism thing? [...someone replies...] Hey, that's just
> like in this campaign I played in."). Obviously, the ideal would be
> if someone worked at creating a more up-to-date FAQ, but failing that,
> do you really think that it is better to rely on off-the-cuff
> explanations and random usage?

I think the usage has changed enough that an updated version would be
useful. I think the history of the Threefold is important to
understanding and using it, so the info from your FAQ is essential. I'd
also like to see critiques of the Threefold appear alongside it to
provide counterpoint and describe what it doesn't address.



> I haven't read the entire thread, but as far as I see, Adrian has

I dropped out at the outset, expecting a flame fest. There was a reason
I asked for commentary on the Threefold in private mail. I've received
some and I'm still open to more.


Larry

John Kim

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May 6, 2003, 7:06:36 PM5/6/03
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Charlton Wilbur <cwi...@mithril.chromatico.net> wrote:

> jh...@darkshire.org (John Kim) writes:
>> Obviously, the ideal would be if someone worked at creating a more
>> up-to-date FAQ, but failing that, do you really think that it is
>> better to rely on off-the-cuff explanations and random usage?
>
> I suspect I'd prefer a horde of newbies with no concept of what
> the Threefold is to a horde of newbies who have a muddled concept of
> what the Threefold is and who insist in rehashing old flamewars.
...

> But I think I'll make the offer -- if enough people think that an
> updated FAQ is a good idea, and if John doesn't want to take on the
> project, then I'd be happy to coordinate, consolidate, and edit.

OK, based on history, I would say that not having an FAQ does
*not* prevent getting a muddled understanding. Quite the opposite!!!
The terminology exists and posters still regularly use it. There
is no way to stuff the genie back in the bottle. Without it, I suspect
you will just go back to rehashing even earlier debates from before
I made the Threefold section of the FAQ in December 1998.

-*-*-*-*-*-*-
> >
> > As I see it, the problem was that he [Adrian] wanted to discuss

> > things (i.e. "*Why* do you only use Threefold terms for motivation?"),
> > and others wanted him to simply accept it as canon.
>

> Several people explained to him exactly why the Threefold was used to
> discuss intent rather than outcome -- to wit, that intent doesn't
> always match outcome; that the Threefold was created to discuss
> differences in intent; that using the same terminology to discuss
> outcomes or to conflate outcome with intent would be imprecise at
> best, confusing most of the time, and incendiary at worst;

OK, so here we get to the heart. I tackled this in my FAQ
with questions #4 and #5. In question #4, I said:

: However, every game will have problems, including undramatic bits,
: unrealistic bits, and unbalanced bits. The Threefold asks about how
: much comparative effort you put into solving these.

Is the problem that this isn't strongly worded enough, or that the actual
meaning of current usage is different than what I expressed then?
If so, in what way has the meaning changed? Any ideas on what
should be done differently?

Charlton Wilbur

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May 6, 2003, 8:13:33 PM5/6/03
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jh...@darkshire.org (John Kim) writes:

> OK, so here we get to the heart. I tackled this in my FAQ
> with questions #4 and #5. In question #4, I said:
>
> : However, every game will have problems, including undramatic bits,
> : unrealistic bits, and unbalanced bits. The Threefold asks about how
> : much comparative effort you put into solving these.
>
> Is the problem that this isn't strongly worded enough, or that the actual
> meaning of current usage is different than what I expressed then?
> If so, in what way has the meaning changed? Any ideas on what
> should be done differently?

I think that the FAQ definition, and particularly those sentences, are
unclear in that they muddles intent and outcome, which have become
very clearly separated in the years since it was written. Current
usage has changed.

For instance, rewriting that bit:

However, every game will have problems, including undramatic
bits, unrealistic bits, and unbalanced bits. The Threefold

asks about what the gamemaster's intention is when considering
the outcome of in-game events.

It might also be prudent to add a sentence or paragraph clarifying and
explaining the emphasis on intent. "Why can't you use it to talk
about outcome?" certainly qualifies as a FAQ -- maybe something like
this:

Q. Okay, I get it. But why did I just see someone get jumped
on for mentioning a gamist outcome?

A. The emphasis in the Threefold model is on intent rather
than on outcome. There are practical as well as historical
reasons for this.

Trying to apply the Threefold to the in-game outcome of events
rather than the gamemaster's intent in resolving actions leads
to a couple of problems. Many decisions are not clearly one
or the other, and so the pattern of outcomes -- often more
succinctly expressed as the intent of the gamemaster -- is
more useful in the long run. [Perhaps use the example of
finding the suspect in the second place that the party looks
as an illustration?]

In discussing assumption clashes, it's often very useful to
separate intent and outcome: a GM who wants to run a
simulationist game but who fudges the numbers when things turn
out to put the characters' lives in jeopardy is in a very
different situation than a GM who wants to produce dramatic
stories and does so well. Further, it's entirely possible for
a gamemaster to be predominantly simulationist, but to have
gripping stories with lots of dramatic tension be the outcome.

Historically, the ideas behind the Threefold were first
articulated as part of a discussion of what different people
found satisfying in games. Several of the participants put
more weight on the intent of the gamemaster than on the actual
outcome. (In the [paraphrased] words of Mary Kuhner, "When
someone treads on my foot, I don't mind if it's accidental,
but I get upset if it's intentional." [To be included only with
Mary's consent, of course, and preferably only after having
looked up the actual cite, but it seems to illustrate things
perfectly.])

Finally, juxtaposing outcome and intent has led to some
particularly nasty flame wars in the past, often because one
side was arguing as if the Threefold referred to intent and
because the other was arguing as if the Threefold referred to
outcome. We'd like to avoid those if possible.

I don't have the FAQ in front of me at the moment; if you'd like, I'll
take a stab at updating the entire Threefold section, and then we can
all wrangle over it together. Or perhaps, as someone suggested, what
we need is three or four different perspectives on the Threefold,
including at least one from people who don't think it's a useful
model.

Charlton

Peter Knutsen

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May 6, 2003, 8:36:10 PM5/6/03
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Charlton Wilbur wrote:
[...]

> The problem I saw was that he insisted on treating the FAQ as canon,
> rather than the usage in the group, and he insisted on covering old
> ground that's already well-charred from several YEARS of Threefold
> flamewars. Several people explained to him exactly why the Threefold

You can't expect a newcomer to use GoogleGroups read the thousands of
previous posts in here, just to familiarize himself withpast flame
wars (or for any other purpose). Instead such flame wars should be
summarized in easy-to-read form, such as one or more FAQs.

I know it's easy for me to say this, as I'm not going to do it, but I
want to argue for realistic assumptions here: Newcomers will *not*
bother to read several thousand old posts, no matter how hard they are
flamed.

> Charlton

--
Peter Knutsen

Charlton Wilbur

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May 6, 2003, 9:43:31 PM5/6/03
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Peter Knutsen <pe...@knutsen.dk> writes:

> You can't expect a newcomer to use GoogleGroups read the thousands of
> previous posts in here, just to familiarize himself withpast flame
> wars (or for any other purpose).

No, but when a newcomer is told the same thing repeatedly by more than
four people he ought to believe it -- or at least back down long
enough to reconsider -- instead of arguing with it.

> I know it's easy for me to say this, as I'm not going to do it, but
> I want to argue for realistic assumptions here: Newcomers will *not*
> bother to read several thousand old posts, no matter how hard they
> are flamed.

Yes, which is why I'm in favor of removing the FAQ or revising it.
The current FAQ is in a position to contribute to flamewars rather
than preventing them.

Charlton

Robert Scott Clark

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May 6, 2003, 9:41:56 PM5/6/03
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Peter Knutsen <pe...@knutsen.dk> wrote in news:3EB854FA...@knutsen.dk:

And it's not as if any of those old flamewars ever actually resolved
anything anyway. In cases like this, victory goes to those who write the
FAQ.


And further, I would just like to add, just because some people feel the
issues were resolved (or just became tired of discussing them) doesn't in
any way imply that a newcomer should not question those conclusions. And
if your average newcomer asks those exact same unresolved questions, that's
a good indication that they should never have been put away in the first
place.


>> Charlton
>


Warren J. Dew

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May 6, 2003, 11:46:52 PM5/6/03
to
John Kim posts, in part:

OK, so here we get to the heart. I tackled this in my FAQ
with questions #4 and #5. In question #4, I said:

: However, every game will have problems, including
undramatic bits,
: unrealistic bits, and unbalanced bits. The Threefold
asks about how
: much comparative effort you put into solving these.

Is the problem that this isn't strongly worded enough, or
that the actual meaning of current usage is different than
what I expressed then? If so, in what way has the meaning
changed? Any ideas on what should be done differently?

I think you would have to get an answer from Adrian to know for sure.

Mostly he said that he felt the FAQ "emphasized" results over intent. The fact
that "emphasis", rather than logic, was what got paid attention to may point to
the FAQ's being too long.

Frankly, I don't remember any problems with threefold flamewars before the FAQ
contained discussion of the threefold. I understand you are trying to help,
but I think the concepts aren't sufficiently easy for newcomers to grasp that
they can be expected to learn them noninteractively.

Peter Knutsen:

I know it's easy for me to say this, as I'm not going to do
it, but I want to argue for realistic assumptions here:
Newcomers will *not* bother to read several thousand old
posts, no matter how hard they are flamed.

From the evidence above, they aren't going to read important parts of the FAQ,
either.

As one of the few who were patient enough to actually figure out that Adrian
was interested in learning, and to help answer his questions, I'd say that I'd
much rather spend my time starting by answering questions rather than having to
first go through a flamewar stage of burning away misconceptions.

Russell Wallace

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May 7, 2003, 12:48:15 AM5/7/03
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On 6 May 2003 09:42:40 -0700, jh...@darkshire.org (John Kim) wrote:

> Hello. I had posted a new thread on this on Sunday but somehow I
>didn't seem to get distribution. Anyhow, I'd be willing to drop
>posting my FAQ, but I'd like to hear a few more opinions. As far as I
>know right now, Larry Hols is apparently for keeping it, Warren and
>Charlton are against.

The two issues regarding the Threefold that lead to confusion (and
sometimes flame wars) are:

- It's defined in terms of intentions, not results.

- There's an asymmetry: gamism and dramatism are defined positively,
but simulationism is defined negatively.

I think it would be best if the FAQ were still posted, but with some
sort of note added to emphasize the above points. (Feel free to copy
my wording from this or any other post if it would help, of course.)

--
"Sore wa himitsu desu."
To reply by email, remove
the small snack from address.
http://www.esatclear.ie/~rwallace

Rusty

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May 7, 2003, 1:06:49 AM5/7/03
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m...@furu.idi.ntnu.no (Magnus Lie Hetland) wrote:

(snip)


>Is it the general opinion of this newsgroup that I should stop posting
>it? I haven't been following the group very diligently lately, but I
>hadn't noticed any loud outcries; however, judging from Warren's
>email, it's been the object of may flame wars, and does no longer
>reflect the vocabulary of the newsgroup.
>
>IIRC, people never really agreed about much on this newsgroup, so that
>might not be all that new ;) but if the FAQ is more of a nuisance than
>a source of information, I probably should stop posting it. (It would
>still be available on the Web, at John's site.)
>
>Opinions?

I haven't posted much to this group for a couple of years, but I've
been reading it since sometime in 97. My vote would go for continuing
to post John's FAQ - preferably with a good update, but a notation
that it's a little dated would do just fine. I think it is a helpful
document even if it does fuel misunderstanding sometimes.

Rusty

Peter Knutsen

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May 7, 2003, 7:04:36 AM5/7/03
to

John Kim wrote:

> Hello. I had posted a new thread on this on Sunday but somehow I
> didn't seem to get distribution. Anyhow, I'd be willing to drop

I didn't see the post, but then again I don't see all your posts. Only
some of them make it to my server (same problem with Robert and a
couple of others who don't post in here). But I've just checked with
GoogleGroups and your new thread isn't there either. Maybe you could
try re-posting it?

> - John

--
Peter Knutsen

Robert Scott Clark

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May 7, 2003, 9:18:56 AM5/7/03
to
Charlton Wilbur <cwi...@mithril.chromatico.net> wrote in
news:878ytjr...@mithril.chromatico.net:

> Peter Knutsen <pe...@knutsen.dk> writes:
>
>> You can't expect a newcomer to use GoogleGroups read the thousands of
>> previous posts in here, just to familiarize himself withpast flame
>> wars (or for any other purpose).
>
> No, but when a newcomer is told the same thing repeatedly by more than
> four people he ought to believe it -


No, you should only believe things you are given good reason to believe.
Only a fool believes something simply because he is told.

Thomas Hudson

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May 7, 2003, 9:30:55 AM5/7/03
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In article <878ytks...@mithril.chromatico.net>,

Charlton Wilbur <cwi...@mithril.chromatico.net> wrote:
>Several people explained to him exactly why the Threefold
>was used to discuss intent rather than outcome -- to wit, that intent
>doesn't always match outcome; that the Threefold was created to
>discuss differences in intent; that using the same terminology to
>discuss outcomes or to conflate outcome with intent would be imprecise
>at best, confusing most of the time, and incendiary at worst; and that
>this issue that he insisted in pursuing had been the subject of
>several flamewars in the past...

Unfortunately, it took *me* many, many readings to get this; I suspect
it's such old ground to the group members who were posting that they
just weren't writing clearly enough for we uninitiated to grasp. I'm
still not entirely convinced of some of their points - it's been repeated
many times, but not well.

Tom


Neelakantan Krishnaswami

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May 7, 2003, 9:51:34 AM5/7/03
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Thomas Hudson <hud...@cs.unc.edu> wrote:
> In article <878ytks...@mithril.chromatico.net>,
> Charlton Wilbur <cwi...@mithril.chromatico.net> wrote:
> > Several people explained to him exactly why the Threefold was used
> > to discuss intent rather than outcome -- to wit, that intent
> > doesn't always match outcome; that the Threefold was created to
> > discuss differences in intent; that using the same terminology to
> > discuss outcomes or to conflate outcome with intent would be
> > imprecise at best, confusing most of the time, and incendiary at
> > worst; and that this issue that he insisted in pursuing had been
> > the subject of several flamewars in the past...
>
> Unfortunately, it took *me* many, many readings to get this; I
> suspect it's such old ground to the group members who were posting
> that they just weren't writing clearly enough for we uninitiated to grasp.
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
DON'T THINK THAT WAY!

There is no secret knowledge on rec.games.frp.advocacy. There is no
magic here, no special lore that will turn you into one of the secret
masters of gaming. What utility there is in this group, comes from
having a community of people who are actually willing to talk about
their games, how they play, what does and doesn't work, and why.

If you fall into the mindset that you can't contribute until you have
achieved some unspecified level of mastery, then you never will,
because there will /always/ be people who have been around here
longer. And that doesn't just hurt you, it hurts everyone, because
your voice won't be a part of the conversation. If you find that some
particular piece of jargon isn't working (however you define
"working") then invent some new language to describe what you
do. That's how the original jargon came to be; someone invented it,
and other people took it up because they found it useful.

Think critically about your play, and write up your observations for
other people to learn from. Be polite, so that other people will feel
comfortable posting their own thoughts. That's all you need to know to
participate effectively on rgfa.

--
Neel Krishnaswami
ne...@alum.mit.edu

Wayne Shaw

unread,
May 7, 2003, 12:29:07 PM5/7/03
to
On Tue, 06 May 2003 18:28:32 GMT, Charlton Wilbur
<cwi...@mithril.chromatico.net> wrote:

>> I haven't read the entire thread, but as far as I see, Adrian has
>> been very polite, communicated fairly well, and quickly acknowledged
>> that the difference between current usage and my older FAQ explanation
>> once it was pointed out. As I see it, the problem was that he wanted
>> to discuss things (i.e. "*Why* do you only use Threefold terms for
>> motivation?"), and others wanted him to simply accept it as canon.
>
>The problem I saw was that he insisted on treating the FAQ as canon,
>rather than the usage in the group, and he insisted on covering old
>ground that's already well-charred from several YEARS of Threefold
>flamewars. Several people explained to him exactly why the Threefold
>was used to discuss intent rather than outcome -- to wit, that intent
>doesn't always match outcome; that the Threefold was created to
>discuss differences in intent; that using the same terminology to
>discuss outcomes or to conflate outcome with intent would be imprecise
>at best, confusing most of the time, and incendiary at worst; and that
>this issue that he insisted in pursuing had been the subject of
>several flamewars in the past -- and he continued to insist that he
>would use it for outcome rather than intent because his interpretation
>of the FAQ allowed him to do so.

Hmmm. I've apparently not only missed some messages in here, I've
missed an entire thread, since this whole discussion is utterly
cryptic from where I sit.

Leszek Karlik

unread,
May 7, 2003, 12:17:33 PM5/7/03
to
On Wed, 07 May 2003 13:51:34 GMT, Neelakantan Krishnaswami
<ne...@alum.mit.edu> disseminated foul capitalist propaganda:

[...]


> There is no secret knowledge on rec.games.frp.advocacy. There is no
> magic here, no special lore that will turn you into one of the secret
> masters of gaming. What utility there is in this group, comes from
> having a community of people who are actually willing to talk about
> their games, how they play, what does and doesn't work, and why.

[...]


> Think critically about your play, and write up your observations for
> other people to learn from. Be polite, so that other people will feel
> comfortable posting their own thoughts. That's all you need to know to
> participate effectively on rgfa.

That ought to go in the FAQ. :-)

> Neel Krishnaswami
Leslie
--
Leszek 'Leslie' Karlik; Drone, Offensive, Special Circumstances, Contact.

GH/L/S/O d- s+:- a24 C++ UL+ P L++ E W-() N+++* K w(---) M- PS+(+++) PE
Y+ PGP++ !t---(++) 5++ X- R+++*>$ !tv b++++ DI+ D--- G-- e>+ h- r% y+*

Warren J. Dew

unread,
May 7, 2003, 1:19:21 PM5/7/03
to
Peter Knutsen posts, in part:

Q: Why don't you provide the answers that conflict with those
in John Kim's FAQ, then?

Well, the threefold answer uses completely different terminology. I don't
remember what his FAQ says about the narrative stances.

Any suggestions?

Mark 'Kamikaze' Hughes

unread,
May 7, 2003, 11:24:06 PM5/7/03
to
Wed, 07 May 2003 01:43:31 GMT, Charlton Wilbur <cwi...@mithril.chromatico.net>:

> Peter Knutsen <pe...@knutsen.dk> writes:
>> You can't expect a newcomer to use GoogleGroups read the thousands of
>> previous posts in here, just to familiarize himself withpast flame
>> wars (or for any other purpose).
> No, but when a newcomer is told the same thing repeatedly by more than
> four people he ought to believe it -- or at least back down long
> enough to reconsider -- instead of arguing with it.

"We're Authority, and you're not. You must obey." does not go over
well with most people. I know, this may be hard for you to understand
or accept, since you consider yourself part of the cool clique.

>> I know it's easy for me to say this, as I'm not going to do it, but
>> I want to argue for realistic assumptions here: Newcomers will *not*
>> bother to read several thousand old posts, no matter how hard they
>> are flamed.
> Yes, which is why I'm in favor of removing the FAQ or revising it.
> The current FAQ is in a position to contribute to flamewars rather
> than preventing them.

FAQs do not cause flamewars. People cause flamewars. Specifically,
inconsiderate, closed-minded, fuckwitted people who are unwilling to
discuss anything, but instead insist that because they've done something
one way for a long time, that is the only way it can be done, and if you
don't already agree, you are a savage who must be killfiled.

Not that I'm pointing a finger at anyone. Well, okay, I am. Who, I
leave as an exercise for groups.google.com.

--
<a href="http://kuoi.asui.uidaho.edu/~kamikaze/"> Mark Hughes </a>
"We remain convinced that this is the best defensive posture to adopt in
order to minimize casualties when the Great Old Ones return from beyond
the stars to eat our brains." -Charlie Stross, _The Concrete Jungle_

Joachim Schipper

unread,
May 8, 2003, 4:02:33 AM5/8/03
to

"Mark 'Kamikaze' Hughes" <kami...@kuoi.asui.uidaho.edu> schreef in bericht
news:slrnbbjjel.2...@kuoi.asui.uidaho.edu...

I disagree with you in magnitude, but agree in principle - there were indeed
quite a few inconsiderate posts, though not as bad as you describe. That is
entirely true. The thread does not reflect well on the group. That is
entirely true. I myself stayed out of it, exactly because of the things I
outlined here. That is entirely true.

However, your own post does not help in preventing future flamewars. Maybe
you should word a little more carefully. Even if the regulars here should've
known better, so should the newbies.

Joachim


---
My outgoing mail is checked for viruses.
Checked by AVG anti-virus system (http://www.grisoft.com).
Version: 6.0.476 / Virus Database: 273 - Release Date: 24-4-03


T. Kurt Bond

unread,
May 9, 2003, 12:48:39 AM5/9/03
to
If you update the FAQ, please consider changing the section on
Diceless Roleplaying.

It might be a good idea to include links to the publishers of some of
the games.

Epiphany:
http://www.btrc.net/html/catalog.html#Epiphany
Theatrix:
http://shopping.netledger.com/app/site/site.nl/site.ACCT88453/mode.items/sc.2/category.17/.f
Persona:
http://www.tesarta.com/www/persona/persona.html

Nobilis needs to be added to the list of published diceless
roleplaying games; it's currently published by Guardians of Order,
Inc. Here's a link:
http://www.guardiansorder.com/nobilis/

Several of the "New Style" games from the late, lamented Hogshead
Publishing are diceless roleplaying games, or might be. Puppetland,
by John Tynes, clearly is. De Profundis and Banron Munchausen are, if
you accept that they are roleplaying games at all. (I do.)

> In terms of this FAQ, however, "diceless" role-playing refers
> to generally minimalist systems where the GM decides on the results
> of actions without the help of randomizers, tables, or explicit
> quantified mechanics.

I think this overly restricts the definition of diceless role-playing.
Both Epiphany nor Nobilis use explicity quantified mechanics, and the
mechanics portions of Nobilis are probably not minimalist and don't
rely on GM fiat any more than any diced game.

Would it be useful to split this into two categories: non-random
and freeform?

Non-random would be dice- and card- less, but would include systems
with quantified mechanics like Epiphany and Nobilis.

Freeform would would be those games where results are decided by
GM fiat or negotiation between all or some of those playing.
Note that this would included the ever popular "Roll some dice
and the GM and/or players decide based on the roll and any
other other factors deemed important", so it's not actually diceless.
(There's some similarity here, I think, to Australian Freemform
LARPs.)


A differnt way of approaching this would be something involving drama
resolution, karma resolution, and fortune resolution mechanics. Does
anybody know where a good definition of these is?

--
T. Kurt Bond, t...@tkb.mpl.com

Peter Knutsen

unread,
May 9, 2003, 6:44:05 AM5/9/03
to

T. Kurt Bond wrote:

> I think this overly restricts the definition of diceless role-playing.
> Both Epiphany nor Nobilis use explicity quantified mechanics, and the
> mechanics portions of Nobilis are probably not minimalist and don't
> rely on GM fiat any more than any diced game.
>
> Would it be useful to split this into two categories: non-random
> and freeform?

It would be even more useful if it was spelled correctly: fudge-heavy.

Changing from "diceless" to "non-random" is also good, although there
are some distinction between dice-randomness and card-randomness,
which it might be useful to discuss briefly.

> A differnt way of approaching this would be something involving drama
> resolution, karma resolution, and fortune resolution mechanics. Does
> anybody know where a good definition of these is?

Yes, that's a useful distinction, even if Ron Edwards has given it bad
publicity.

--
Peter Knutsen

Magnus Lie Hetland

unread,
May 9, 2003, 7:48:15 AM5/9/03
to
In article <3eb88f3c....@news.eircom.net>, Russell Wallace wrote:
>On 6 May 2003 09:42:40 -0700, jh...@darkshire.org (John Kim) wrote:
>
>> Hello. I had posted a new thread on this on Sunday but somehow I
>>didn't seem to get distribution. Anyhow, I'd be willing to drop
>>posting my FAQ, but I'd like to hear a few more opinions. As far as I
>>know right now, Larry Hols is apparently for keeping it, Warren and
>>Charlton are against.
>
>The two issues regarding the Threefold that lead to confusion (and
>sometimes flame wars) are:
>
>- It's defined in terms of intentions, not results.

I must say I'm a bit confused by the enormous weight that has been
placed on this distinction... Is it really that important? Or is it
that we love to play with words here at rgfa?

And although intent and result clearly are different things, is there
really any reason why a set of descriptive terms may only be used on
either? I see how the distinction may warrant extra clarification (as
in "dramatist intent" or "the resulting simulationism" or whatever),
but still... Saying that it can only be used to describe intent is a
bit like saying that object-oriented can only be used to describe
design, and not code...

Oh, well.

--
Magnus Lie Hetland "If you can't take a joke, you have no business
http://hetland.org having a heart condition!" Igor, Dork Tower

Jason Corley

unread,
May 9, 2003, 8:59:26 AM5/9/03
to
Magnus Lie Hetland <m...@furu.idi.ntnu.no> wrote:

> I must say I'm a bit confused by the enormous weight that has been
> placed on this distinction... Is it really that important? Or is it
> that we love to play with words here at rgfa?

I don't know whether it's enormously important, but it is pounded into
everyone with a hammer who triies to take part in a Threefold
discussion without understanding it. Clearly some people are
/tremendously/ invested in it.

Personally, I think limiting it to in-game intent-in-making-decisions
makes it exactly 100% useless, because it doesn't matter what my intent
is when I make a GM decision. It only matters what the players think my
intent is and how they respond to the /outcome/. The only time GM
intent really matters - and the only time when it matters /completely/
is during design........which naturally is also explicitly excluded,
with a verbal 2x4, from Threefold discussions. But I have already been
over this ground a thousand times before and don't feel the need to
bring it up every single time there is a Threefold discussion.


--
***************************************************************************
"You turn off the light and turn on the dark, you turn off the dark and
turn on the light --- positively marvillainous!" ---Krazy Kat, 1921
Jason D. Corley | End...@thecircus.org.uk | AIM: Concordancer

T. Kurt Bond

unread,
May 9, 2003, 9:18:01 AM5/9/03
to
Peter Knutsen <pe...@knutsen.dk> wrote in message news:<3EBB8675...@knutsen.dk>...

> It would be even more useful if it was spelled correctly: fudge-heavy.

I'm not sure why you think this is a better spelling; I think freeform
is a better (more general) description. Could you elucidate?

(I'm presuming that you were refering to freeform, since non-random
need not include any fudging.)

--
T. Kurt Bond

Leszek Karlik

unread,
May 9, 2003, 10:00:13 AM5/9/03
to
On 9 May 2003 06:18:01 -0700, T. Kurt Bond <t...@tkb.mpl.com>
disseminated foul capitalist propaganda:

[...]


> Peter Knutsen <pe...@knutsen.dk> wrote in message news:<3EBB8675...@knutsen.dk>...
>> It would be even more useful if it was spelled correctly: fudge-heavy.
> I'm not sure why you think this is a better spelling;

Oh, that's just Peter's, well, let's call it "unique" style of
discussion. You'll get used to it. ;->

> T. Kurt Bond

Beowulf Bolt

unread,
May 9, 2003, 10:51:43 AM5/9/03
to
Magnus Lie Hetland wrote:
>
> And although intent and result clearly are different things, is there
> really any reason why a set of descriptive terms may only be used on
> either?

From my POV the ability to apply the Threefold to fix a campaign is
dependant upon intent and preferences rather than results. A given
*result* could fit World, Story or Game, but knowing the *reason why* a
decision was made is what allows prediction of future decisions.

It all comes down to reduction of stylistic assumption clash. In
order to achieve this, you *must* know what assumptions (ie intents) the
other party is operating based upon.

Let me return to my example of the game I am currently in (thrashed
out at length recently in the "campaign premise" thread, starting with
Message-ID: <3EA96D...@shaw.ca>.). I have a GM whose only concern
appears to be making every climactic battle a challenging one. He has
paid no attention to World concerns to arrange this, leading to a clash
with many of the players about the "unbelievability" of some of the
situations we have found ourselves in.

Now if I look at the *results* of any particular decision the GM has
made, any protest by the players may seem a little petty. There could
be World reasons why the mob boss has a full-fledged dungeon underneath
a small bar in the middle of a major city. There could be Story
reasons unbeknownst to us why all his henchmen are fanatically loyal and
neutral in aligment. It is only by looking at the pattern of such
decisions over a longer term that I deduce instead that Game concerns
are paramount to him and World considerations practically nonexistant.

This is an important discernment to make if one hopes to heal the
campaign. Similar assessment of my fellow players has told me that they
prefer a stronger degree of World. Thus, I can see that the campaign is
doomed to further dissent unless the GM starts making more decisions
with an intent to add World considerations, or else the other players
accept (as I have) that we cannot expect the World to make sense.


> I see how the distinction may warrant extra clarification (as
> in "dramatist intent" or "the resulting simulationism" or whatever),
> but still... Saying that it can only be used to describe intent is a
> bit like saying that object-oriented can only be used to describe
> design, and not code...

Hmmm. Here's a better computer-based analogy (imo).

You have code which is supposed to determine a result based upon
certain input parameters. It has been tested on a predetermined sample
dataset and produced the correct result. Is it okay at this point to
declare the code good, or is it important to determine that the process
by which it achieved those results is valid?

Looking at results will only tell you how well a campaign has met
expectations heretofore. Looking at the process (ie intent) behind the
decision-making allows you to predict future breaking-points before they
occur.

Murkily yours,
Biff


--
-------------------------------------------------------------------
"Me? Lady, I'm your worst nightmare - a pumpkin with a gun.
[...] Euminides this! " - Mervyn, the Sandman #66
-------------------------------------------------------------------

Robert Scott Clark

unread,
May 9, 2003, 10:47:33 AM5/9/03
to
t...@tkb.mpl.com (T. Kurt Bond) wrote in
news:a3db6b24.03050...@posting.google.com:

> Peter Knutsen <pe...@knutsen.dk> wrote in message
> news:<3EBB8675...@knutsen.dk>...
>> It would be even more useful if it was spelled correctly:
>> fudge-heavy.
>
> I'm not sure why you think this is a better spelling; I think freeform
> is a better (more general) description. Could you elucidate?

Peter very myopic. The only reason he can see for anyone ever wanting to
use any rules-light system is because they like GM-fudging, and he has
therefore invented his own terminology that enforces his faulty
worldview.

Robert Scott Clark

unread,
May 9, 2003, 11:33:56 AM5/9/03
to
Beowulf Bolt <beowul...@shaw.ca> wrote in news:3EBBC1...@shaw.ca:

> Magnus Lie Hetland wrote:
>>
>> And although intent and result clearly are different things, is there
>> really any reason why a set of descriptive terms may only be used on
>> either?
>
> From my POV the ability to apply the Threefold to fix a campaign is
> dependant upon intent and preferences rather than results. A given
> *result* could fit World, Story or Game, but knowing the *reason why* a
> decision was made is what allows prediction of future decisions.


#1 Knowing what results were achieved will often be a pretty darn good
predictor of what future decisions will be - for some play styles. The
fact that for whatever in-game/metagame reason, PCs have, in the past,
rarely been killed in campaigns I GM is a damned good indicator that
future decisions about PC death will produce the similar results.

#2 How a decision is made will not allow prediction of future decisions,
only a pattern of decisionmaking will allow prediction of future
decisions. This produces a distincty problem for people who fall
anywhere in the triangle except the extremes. The person who is
unconcerned with the threefold axies and the person who is conflicted
over them will produce a similar pattern.

>
> It all comes down to reduction of stylistic assumption clash. In
> order to achieve this, you *must* know what assumptions (ie intents)
the
> other party is operating based upon.

And is an assumption clash all by itself. It assumes that everyone is
using one of those predetermined methods to make decisions. It removes
assumptions within one subset of players, but never recognizes that it
creates one just as significant between that group and those of us not in
that group.


>
> Let me return to my example of the game I am currently in (thrashed
> out at length recently in the "campaign premise" thread, starting with
> Message-ID: <3EA96D...@shaw.ca>.). I have a GM whose only concern
> appears to be making every climactic battle a challenging one. He has
> paid no attention to World concerns to arrange this, leading to a clash
> with many of the players about the "unbelievability" of some of the
> situations we have found ourselves in.
>
> Now if I look at the *results* of any particular decision the GM has
> made, any protest by the players may seem a little petty. There could
> be World reasons why the mob boss has a full-fledged dungeon underneath
> a small bar in the middle of a major city. There could be Story
> reasons unbeknownst to us why all his henchmen are fanatically loyal
and
> neutral in aligment. It is only by looking at the pattern of such
> decisions over a longer term that I deduce instead that Game concerns
> are paramount to him and World considerations practically nonexistant.
>
> This is an important discernment to make if one hopes to heal the
> campaign. Similar assessment of my fellow players has told me that
they
> prefer a stronger degree of World. Thus, I can see that the campaign
is
> doomed to further dissent unless the GM starts making more decisions
> with an intent to add World considerations, or else the other players
> accept (as I have) that we cannot expect the World to make sense.

This type of statement is of the type that makes people like me say the
threefold is worthless. When people supporting it say things like this
it makes it clear there is something wrong with the model.

To state it blatantly - no style need ever result in the world not making
sense.

>
>
>> I see how the distinction may warrant extra clarification (as
>> in "dramatist intent" or "the resulting simulationism" or whatever),
>> but still... Saying that it can only be used to describe intent is a
>> bit like saying that object-oriented can only be used to describe
>> design, and not code...
>
> Hmmm. Here's a better computer-based analogy (imo).
>
> You have code which is supposed to determine a result based upon
> certain input parameters. It has been tested on a predetermined sample
> dataset and produced the correct result. Is it okay at this point to
> declare the code good, or is it important to determine that the process
> by which it achieved those results is valid?

You need to look at both. You can stare at pure code all you want, but
until you test it, you'll never find the bugs.

>
> Looking at results will only tell you how well a campaign has met
> expectations heretofore.

Unless you are mainly concerned with the results. If the computer
program is supposed to do nothing but draw a big circle on the screen,
then whether it does so by mathematically estimating points or by a
simple list of points to light, matter very little.

It makes sense to say that from a freefold point of view that a
"simulationist" is concerned with the reasons decisions are made, but
this doesn't work for "narrativist" (once you use a better definition
than the stupid "tell a good story" one). Narrativist decisions are
based on outcome. You make a decision that matches the outcome you want
- there is no difference between intent and outcome, your intent is the
outcome.

Warren J. Dew

unread,
May 9, 2003, 11:49:27 AM5/9/03
to
Magnus Lie Hetland posts, in part:

I must say I'm a bit confused by the enormous weight that has
been placed on this distinction... Is it really that
important? Or is it that we love to play with words here at
rgfa?

Magnus, go read through the massive flamewar a couple years ago when Bradd W.
Szonye first joined the newsgroup, the one that pretty much killed discussion
here until this past month, and you will see why there's a lot of weight placed
on this distinction.

The more I see, the more I think that if there's going to be a FAQ, the poster
of it ought at least be required to keep up with the newsgroup.

Russell Wallace

unread,
May 9, 2003, 12:11:00 PM5/9/03
to
On Fri, 9 May 2003 11:48:15 +0000 (UTC), m...@furu.idi.ntnu.no (Magnus
Lie Hetland) wrote:

>In article <3eb88f3c....@news.eircom.net>, Russell Wallace wrote:
>>
>>The two issues regarding the Threefold that lead to confusion (and
>>sometimes flame wars) are:
>>
>>- It's defined in terms of intentions, not results.
>
>I must say I'm a bit confused by the enormous weight that has been
>placed on this distinction... Is it really that important? Or is it
>that we love to play with words here at rgfa?

Well, I don't greatly care about the distinction for its own sake,
because I find I don't need the Threefold model these days, and it
wouldn't bother me if people would just stop referring to it at all.

The reason I commented is that empirically I find people who miss the
above point are wont, for whatever reason, to obscure potentially
interesting discussions with interminable arguments and flame wars
about the bloody Threefold, to the point where I sometimes wish it had
never been invented; okay, it was progress at the time, but with all
the vast fertile tracts of memetic space available, why do people want
to spend so much time and energy bickering over this one stupid little
corner of it?

One can vaguely hope that having the official definition set down
clearly and unmistakably in the FAQ might perhaps help discourage some
of this.

Beowulf Bolt

unread,
May 9, 2003, 12:12:19 PM5/9/03
to
Robert Scott Clark wrote:
>
> Beowulf Bolt <beowul...@shaw.ca> wrote in news:3EBBC1...@shaw.ca:
>
> > This is an important discernment to make if one hopes to heal the
> > campaign. Similar assessment of my fellow players has told me that
> > they prefer a stronger degree of World. Thus, I can see that the
> > campaign is doomed to further dissent unless the GM starts making
> > more decisions with an intent to add World considerations, or else
> > the other players accept (as I have) that we cannot expect the World
> > to make sense.
>
> This type of statement is of the type that makes people like me say
> the threefold is worthless. When people supporting it say things like
> this it makes it clear there is something wrong with the model.

WTF?!?

I tell a story about how the Threefold model is helping me to come to
grips with a campaign and you cite it as *proof* that the model is
"useless"?

Robert, I don't give a flying fuck whether or not you like the
Threefold. If it doesn't work for you, so be it. What I don't
understand, however, is what basis you have for attacking those of us
who *do* find value in it.


> To state it blatantly - no style need ever result in the world not
> making sense.

So what? The style of campaign I am in has done *precisely* that.
Should I just pretend that the world *does* make sense? I don't
understand why it troubles *you* so much that I look into the reasons
*why* the campaign world doesn't make sense.

Never have I claimed that such a lack of sense is obligatory to one of
the extreme points. Your attack on the model is unwarranted.

Neelakantan Krishnaswami

unread,
May 9, 2003, 12:21:24 PM5/9/03
to
Russell Wallace <wallacet...@eircom.net> wrote:
>
> The reason I commented is that empirically I find people who miss
> the above point are wont, for whatever reason, to obscure
> potentially interesting discussions with interminable arguments and
> flame wars about the bloody Threefold, to the point where I
> sometimes wish it had never been invented; okay, it was progress at
> the time, but with all the vast fertile tracts of memetic space
> available, why do people want to spend so much time and energy
> bickering over this one stupid little corner of it?
>
> One can vaguely hope that having the official definition set down
> clearly and unmistakably in the FAQ might perhaps help discourage
> some of this.

Actually, putting your previous paragraph in the FAQ might work
better. :)

--
Neel Krishnaswami
ne...@alum.mit.edu

Charlton Wilbur

unread,
May 9, 2003, 12:28:13 PM5/9/03
to
m...@furu.idi.ntnu.no (Magnus Lie Hetland) writes:

(in response to me)

> >The two issues regarding the Threefold that lead to confusion (and
> >sometimes flame wars) are:
> >
> >- It's defined in terms of intentions, not results.
>
> I must say I'm a bit confused by the enormous weight that has been
> placed on this distinction... Is it really that important? Or is it
> that we love to play with words here at rgfa?

It is very important to some of us. As a possibly-wrong
generalization, it seems that the people who care about intent also
care to distinguish between intent and results, and people who don't
care about intent (or who think it's a red herring, viz. Jason
Corley's response to your question in this thread, in which he says
that player perception of GM intent, which correlates strongly with
outcome, is more interesting to him than actual GM intent) don't think
that the distinction is necessary.

My own interest in *intent* rather than *outcome* is because outcomes
are difficult to read on their own; you can't look at one resolution
and determine anything meaningful about the GM. You need a pattern of
resolutions, and at that point the useful thing to do is to generalize
about a pattern for the method behind the outcomes -- which means
you're talking about intent.

I agree with Jason Corley in that the *perceived* intent of the
gamemaster can be as important as the *actual* intent -- if the
gamemaster thinks he's being dramatist, while the players think based
on his decisions that he's being gamist, we're either dealing with an
issue of perception or of definition. But on a deeper level, we're
also committing the intentional fallacy -- trying to draw conclusions
about the intent a person had based on what he does.

I also think that it's problematic to talk about 'simulationist
outcomes' -- what that means, to me at least, is 'outcomes that match
what I would expect if the gamemaster had simulationist intent.'
Better to say 'world-oriented outcomes' or 'story-oriented outcomes'
or 'game-oriented outcomes', or some newly-created jargon, to get the
point across, if that's what you mean.

> And although intent and result clearly are different things, is
> there really any reason why a set of descriptive terms may only be
> used on either? I see how the distinction may warrant extra
> clarification (as in "dramatist intent" or "the resulting
> simulationism" or whatever), but still... Saying that it can only be
> used to describe intent is a bit like saying that object-oriented
> can only be used to describe design, and not code...

I think a preferable solution is to come up with alternate, more
precise terminology to avoid the necessary clarification. If we
conclude that we *must* use the Threefold terminology with an emphasis
on outcome, then we need good solid rubrics, akin to what we have with
the Threefold as currently used, to determine if an outcome is gamist,
simulationist, or dramatist, *without reference to the intent of the
gamemaster*.

The real problem is that there exist both a set of people for whom the
distinction between intent and outcome is useful and a set of people
for whom the distinction between intent and outcome is irrelevant. If
both of those sets of people use the same three words, we're going to
wind up talking past each other more than talking to each other.

Perhaps what we need is for one of the people who wants to talk about
outcomes to enumerate the interesting sorts of outcomes, and a
terminology can arise from that. The Threefold arose because people
were interested in discussing the *intent* of the GM in making
decisions. I'll admit to being stuck in my ways: I can't see
'<threefold absolute> outcome' as anything but 'a likely outcome if
the GM had <threefold absolute> intent', and so the definition is
based on intent. I don't know how I can conceive of an event being
simulationist, or dramatist, or gamist, *without* using intent as an
essential part of the definition.

And that said, maybe the sufficient resolution to this is to clarify
somewhere explicitly that the Threefold can refer to *intent* or
*perceived intent*, since it seems to me that a lot of people are
using constructions like 'simulationist outcome' to mean something
like 'I perceive that the intent of the GM in this matter was
simulationist,' or 'This outcome is consistent with a simulationist
intent,' but that the people who are resisting the limitation of the
Threefold to intent are reluctant to ascribe intent.

Or maybe I'm way off base here. Maybe the first step is to come up
with rubrics to separate various types of outcome from each other
without reference to intent.

Charlton

Russell Wallace

unread,
May 9, 2003, 12:38:08 PM5/9/03
to
On Fri, 09 May 2003 16:21:24 GMT, Neelakantan Krishnaswami
<ne...@alum.mit.edu> wrote:

>Actually, putting your previous paragraph in the FAQ might work
>better. :)

Heh. I suppose maybe it just might :)

Jason Corley

unread,
May 9, 2003, 1:11:41 PM5/9/03
to
Charlton Wilbur <cwi...@mithril.chromatico.net> wrote:

> And that said, maybe the sufficient resolution to this is to clarify
> somewhere explicitly that the Threefold can refer to *intent* or
> *perceived intent*, since it seems to me that a lot of people are
> using constructions like 'simulationist outcome' to mean something
> like 'I perceive that the intent of the GM in this matter was
> simulationist,' or 'This outcome is consistent with a simulationist
> intent,' but that the people who are resisting the limitation of the
> Threefold to intent are reluctant to ascribe intent.

I'll refine my point of view a little bit because people are actually
talking about the subject again and I think it's been long enough that
I don't feel like I'm harping on it - although I did present my point
of view on the Threefold again-and-again back in the day.

I don't want to discount GM intent as important - /in campaign design/.
In fact, when designing a campaign, GM intent is BY FAR the most
important thing that we can look at to determine what's going on in the
game. And translating that intent into a campaign with various
techniques is an extremely important topic for me, as a GM, very very
fruitful to talk about. Heck, sometimes campaign design takes place,
chronologically, after play begins, so intentions behind those
decisions are also interesting to talk about.

But no GM intention survives contact with the players, and I think
trying to understand what happens at the gaming table by thinking about
GM intent is like trying to understand your car by an extremely close
analysis of the seat belt latch. That seat belt latch isn't
unimportant, by any means, but it tells you two things about how your
car works: diddly and squat.

And I think when you start to talk about outcomes you start to come
across what I think is the coolest thing about the hobby, but which
also makes navel-gazing about it both tempting and stupid: it's
/extremely extremely broad/. It is more interesting to me from an
analytical point of view to narrow in, laser-like, on /one little
thing/ about someone's experience than it is to try to stick people in
bins, or use vector algebra to describe them or whatever the
description method du jour is. Then compare that one little thing to
other people's similar one little thing and see how everything,
holistically, relates to it (including the seat belt latch of GM
intent, the windshield of player intent, the radio knob of dice
variation, the badly folded road map of task resolution, and so on
through all the bad metaphors).

It's also more useful because it's much easier to change a small thing
about your approach to a situation than "your intent".

Anyway, there's my suggestion. My suggestion is to just forget about
jargon, forget about classification systems, just focus in closely on
something you've observed and figure out what's going on in there.

As a poster on RPG.net recently said (with this punctuation and
spelling):

===============

I fully admit that I am guilty of arm-chair roleplaying. I can't even
begin to count the hours I've spent sitting around thinking or talking
about roleplaying philosophy, how certain systems contribute "such and
such" a feel, or which system would be best for "such and such" a
genre/setting.

Now I am pretty fed up. I just feel like jumping up and shouting, "FUCK
IT! FUCK IT! FUCK IT! FUCK IT! FUCK IT! FUCK IT! FUCK IT! FUCK IT! FUCK
IT! FUCK IT! FUCK IT! FUCK IT! FUCK IT! FUCK IT! FUCK IT! FUCK IT! FUCK
IT! FUCK IT! FUCK IT! FUCK IT! FUCK IT! FUCK IT! FUCK IT! FUCK IT! FUCK
FUCK FUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Let's just play something.....PLAY.....fuck what system it is!

For the love of sweet baby Jesus, all of this philosophy is giving me
the SHITS!

Sorry for the cussing. You might be able to tell I am frusterated.

====================

*bow*

Magnus Lie Hetland

unread,
May 9, 2003, 1:25:29 PM5/9/03
to
In article <Xns937676053F4D3cl...@65.82.44.187>, Robert
Scott Clark wrote:
[snip]

>This type of statement is of the type that makes people like me say the
>threefold is worthless. When people supporting it say things like this
>it makes it clear there is something wrong with the model.

Even though I partook wholeheartedly in the original debates in the
formative years of the threefold model, and thought it was a pretty
good idea to have such a model at the time, now I tend to agree with
you.

[snip]


>You need to look at both. You can stare at pure code all you want, but
>until you test it, you'll never find the bugs.

Absolutely. An the code is not the intent, anyway. Looking at your
intent (i.e. design or test suite or whatever) won't help much on its
own either.

Focusing on intent may not help if the intent is not reached. If the
GM is intent on creating dramatic stories but fails -- what good would
the threefold do?

I think the threefold model seems like a nice way of making people
realize there are other ways of gaming than their own (even though
three "the right" number of dimensions...) Using it for detailed
analysis -- either of intents or outcomes -- seems a bit far-fetched
IMO.

And, if applying the threefold to outcomes rather than intents can get
you *flamed* (I didn't really follow the relevant discussions, so
please excuse me if I misunderstood this), then I'm really shocked.

Magnus Lie Hetland

unread,
May 9, 2003, 1:52:51 PM5/9/03
to
In article <20030509114927...@mb-m03.aol.com>, Warren J.

Dew wrote:
>Magnus Lie Hetland posts, in part:
>
> I must say I'm a bit confused by the enormous weight that has been
> placed on this distinction... Is it really that important? Or is it
> that we love to play with words here at rgfa?
>
>Magnus, go read through the massive flamewar a couple years ago when
>Bradd W. Szonye first joined the newsgroup, the one that pretty much
>killed discussion here until this past month, and you will see why
>there's a lot of weight placed on this distinction.

Yeah, I guess I'll have to look it up -- because I'm completely
baffled by the energy invested in this distinction.

Although... I do remember the wild flame-throwing discussions about
David Berkman's religious fervor ;) in defending Syd Field's story
model as the One True Way of dramatic structure quite a number of
years ago ('94?). In hindsight, I do think that all was rather silly
too...

I skimmed briefly through various flame-related-looking posts by Bradd
W. Szyone, and found one Szyone quote I quite liked:

"I don't think the threefold is the problem as much as the
hair-splitting discussions that go along with it. There seems to be
a *lot* of intolerance for differing opinions on it, despite that
the whole point of the thing is to dispel intolerance."

Finding the exact points where this issue was discussed wasn't too
easy, though. If someone could point to a specific thread where the
importance of applying the threefold to intent but not to results is
explained, I would be thankful. If not, I guess I shall remain in
ignorance, and probably butt out of this specific discussion (for
now).

>The more I see, the more I think that if there's going to be a FAQ,
>the poster of it ought at least be required to keep up with the
>newsgroup.

Why? All I do is host a cron job that posts it. John is the author,
and responsible for the contents. My quips about this issue have
nothing to do with the FAQ.

>Warren J. Dew
>Powderhouse Software

--

Magnus Lie Hetland

unread,
May 9, 2003, 1:54:13 PM5/9/03
to
In article <slrnbbnll2...@h00045a4799d6.ne.client2.attbi.com>,
Neelakantan Krishnaswami wrote:
[snip]

>Actually, putting your previous paragraph in the FAQ might work
>better. :)

Good suggestion :)

>Neel Krishnaswami
>ne...@alum.mit.edu

Magnus Lie Hetland

unread,
May 9, 2003, 2:29:01 PM5/9/03
to
In article <87of2cm...@mithril.chromatico.net>, Charlton Wilbur wrote:
>m...@furu.idi.ntnu.no (Magnus Lie Hetland) writes:
>
[snip]

Thanks for clarifying.

As I said earlier, I agree that there is a clear distinction between
intent and outcome -- of course. If not, we'd all be omnipotent.

As for classifying events (i.e. games) based on intent or outcome;
this distinction is commen in (e.g.) ethics too.

I guess what I reacted to was the perceived (by me) "prohibition"
against using the threefold on outcomes. Maybe one should have two
completely sets of terms (as you suggest below) to avoid confusion.
I don't see a great need for it, but it wouldn't really trouble me.

And... While we're on the issue of intent vs. outcome; wouldn't it be
just as fruitful to focus on how to actually get from intent to
outcome? An intent isn't much worth by itself...

>I also think that it's problematic to talk about 'simulationist
>outcomes' -- what that means, to me at least, is 'outcomes that match
>what I would expect if the gamemaster had simulationist intent.'

I see what you mean -- as "simulationist" smacks of personal
description.

>Better to say 'world-oriented outcomes' or 'story-oriented outcomes'
>or 'game-oriented outcomes', or some newly-created jargon, to get the
>point across, if that's what you mean.

Sure. I just feel it ought to be permitted to use the same categories
to describe outcomes, if need be... Just like we use the term "action
movie" more as a description of the movie itself than of the intent of
the director, for example.

[snip]


>I think a preferable solution is to come up with alternate, more
>precise terminology to avoid the necessary clarification.

Fine by me.

>If we conclude that we *must* use the Threefold terminology with an
>emphasis on outcome, then we need good solid rubrics, akin to what we
>have with the Threefold as currently used, to determine if an outcome
>is gamist, simulationist, or dramatist, *without reference to the
>intent of the gamemaster*.

I'm not going to argue that we need this. I'm not going to argue
fervently either way here.

>The real problem is that there exist both a set of people for whom the
>distinction between intent and outcome is useful and a set of people
>for whom the distinction between intent and outcome is irrelevant. If
>both of those sets of people use the same three words, we're going to
>wind up talking past each other more than talking to each other.

Good point -- although I have a feeling this is true of Usenet
discussions anyway ;)

>Perhaps what we need is for one of the people who wants to talk about
>outcomes to enumerate the interesting sorts of outcomes, and a
>terminology can arise from that. The Threefold arose because people
>were interested in discussing the *intent* of the GM in making
>decisions.

I don't agree. The threefold arose because we wanted to describe
different gaming preferences -- different ways of gaming. These
preferences, when they belong to a GM, surely influence intent. But
they also apply to players.

But during its development, the model was defined in many ways. To
quote from Justing Bacon, two of these definitions were:

"a model describing the considerations used by the GM at the point
of resolving an action"

"a model describing the way the gaming group perceives the
roleplaying event"

I think using it to describe preferences is just fine; GM preferences
will influence his/her intentions, while player preferences will
influence what outcomes (i.e. games) they prefer. Indirectly, this
will, of course, influence what GM intentions they prefer, since
outcomes usually are somewhat correlated to intentions...

> I'll admit to being stuck in my ways: I can't see
>'<threefold absolute> outcome' as anything but 'a likely outcome if
>the GM had <threefold absolute> intent',

In that case, how do you define the intent? If what the GM is intent
on achieving cannot be defined in itself, you are bound to get caught
up in circular logic... At least I cannot see how you avoid it.

Of course, you could use the threefold terms to describe the _actions_
taken by the GM -- they would be clearly influenced by intent and
would clearly influence the outcome. Oh, darn... Now we've got
_another_ thing to apply the threefold to <wink>.

>and so the definition is based on intent. I don't know how I can
>conceive of an event being simulationist, or dramatist, or gamist,
>*without* using intent as an essential part of the definition.

OK. How about judging whether it would appeal to a simulationist,
dramatist, or gamist player?

>And that said, maybe the sufficient resolution to this is to clarify
>somewhere explicitly that the Threefold can refer to *intent* or
>*perceived intent*, since it seems to me that a lot of people are
>using constructions like 'simulationist outcome' to mean something
>like 'I perceive that the intent of the GM in this matter was
>simulationist,' or 'This outcome is consistent with a simulationist
>intent,' but that the people who are resisting the limitation of the
>Threefold to intent are reluctant to ascribe intent.

Maybe -- but here you are, again, assuming that these limitations are
inherent in the threefold. As I see it, they are inherent only in the
interpretation you give, and that seems to be prevalent in the
newsgroup at present.

But, as I said (or have tried to convey), I don't mind having the
threefold terms used as a description of intent. I just feel that the
same categories (quite possibly with different names, to avoid
confusion) may be useful in classifying types of games, that is, the
type of thing one might be intent on creating (to avoid circular
logic), or the type of thing one might want to play in.

As I said earlier, one of my main concerns is the way to actually
*achieve* your intent. And to do that, I think a good description of
what you want to achieve is important.

But I guess this is all quickly becoming a typical rambling usenet
posting with little real content. I'll shut up now. Or after I've
answered your next suggestion ;)

>Or maybe I'm way off base here. Maybe the first step is to come up
>with rubrics to separate various types of outcome from each other
>without reference to intent.

How about using more common terms like "dramatic" instead of
"dramatist" to describe outcome? Not sure what adjectives to use for
simulation and gaming, though...

>Charlton

Oh, my -- how easy it is to get sucked into these discussions. :]

Mary K. Kuhner

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May 9, 2003, 2:14:48 PM5/9/03
to
In article <slrnbbn5b...@furu.idi.ntnu.no>,

Magnus Lie Hetland <m...@furu.idi.ntnu.no> wrote:
>In article <3eb88f3c....@news.eircom.net>, Russell Wallace wrote:

>>- It's defined in terms of intentions, not results.

>I must say I'm a bit confused by the enormous weight that has been
>placed on this distinction... Is it really that important? Or is it
>that we love to play with words here at rgfa?

In my opinion, it's the "dead hand" of David Berkman.

He would describe a game that I wouldn't enjoy playing in, and
then disagree with my self-assessment of that. A major tool
was denying that I could possibly be responding to intent,
and insisting that I could only be responding to results.
The follow-up argument was that I should be perfectly happy
with game resolutions as long as each one was plausible in
the game-world, no matter how clearly I could see metagame
intent.

This just wasn't so, and it felt helpful at the time to work out
nomenclature that supported the distinction.

It's not as clearly helpful now.

Mary Kuhner mkku...@eskimo.com

Magnus Lie Hetland

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May 9, 2003, 2:37:56 PM5/9/03
to
In article <b9gr6o$f7o$1...@nntp3.u.washington.edu>, Mary K. Kuhner wrote:
>In article <slrnbbn5b...@furu.idi.ntnu.no>,
>Magnus Lie Hetland <m...@furu.idi.ntnu.no> wrote:
>>In article <3eb88f3c....@news.eircom.net>, Russell Wallace wrote:
>
>>>- It's defined in terms of intentions, not results.
>
>>I must say I'm a bit confused by the enormous weight that has been
>>placed on this distinction... Is it really that important? Or is it
>>that we love to play with words here at rgfa?
>
>In my opinion, it's the "dead hand" of David Berkman.

LOL!

I'm glad I'm not the only one still referring to him :)

>He would describe a game that I wouldn't enjoy playing in, and
>then disagree with my self-assessment of that.

Right. I remember becoming quite smitten with the alluring story
paradigm mumbo-jumbo myself... The rhetoric of the likes of Syd Field
(who claim to have the only true answer to how things must be done)
can be quite attractive.

>A major tool was denying that I could possibly be responding to
>intent, and insisting that I could only be responding to results.

I see.

>The follow-up argument was that I should be perfectly happy
>with game resolutions as long as each one was plausible in
>the game-world, no matter how clearly I could see metagame
>intent.

I see your point. (Although -- what you were observing was, of course,
the outcome, _shaped_ by the intent... Unless you were using a
brainscanner of some kind ;)

>This just wasn't so, and it felt helpful at the time to work out
>nomenclature that supported the distinction.

Indeed.

>It's not as clearly helpful now.

Well, as I have (evidently) not been following recent discussions
closely enough, I don't really know how useful this is. I find the
threefold is a nice, basic terminology, but not really much more
useful than saying that a story must have a 'beginning, middle, and
end' (and no -- I'm not talking about the Syd Field three-act model
here ;)

Anyway -- thanks for clearing things up a bit.

>Mary Kuhner
>mkku...@eskimo.com

Mary K. Kuhner

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May 9, 2003, 2:29:09 PM5/9/03
to
In article <slrnbbn5b...@furu.idi.ntnu.no>,
Magnus Lie Hetland <m...@furu.idi.ntnu.no> wrote:
>In article <3eb88f3c....@news.eircom.net>, Russell Wallace wrote:

>>- It's defined in terms of intentions, not results.

>I must say I'm a bit confused by the enormous weight that has been
>placed on this distinction... Is it really that important? Or is it
>that we love to play with words here at rgfa?

One further thought on this:

Some people see tradeoffs in their games, where if they try for
more World accuracy, for example, the proportion of Game
disappointments goes up. Or if they try to make the game a better
Story, the players become less convinced of the World.

Other people deny, vehemently and with passion, that there is
ever any tradeoff. In particular, story-focused GMs often
say flatly that making the World worse *never* makes the Story
better. (We had just such a post today.)

It appears that part of the disagreement here depends on whether
the players value intent or not. A player who cares about
intent is likely to find that Story-directed efforts damage
World, because a decision that she can see was made for Story
reasons cannot, thereby, have been made for World reasons.
A player who does not care about intent finds this whole
line of reasoning utterly opaque, even stupid; as long as the
result was good for both Story and World there is no conflict.

I'm not sure there is any easy way for these two camps to
understand each other. I have attempted to summarize the
view that differs from mine here, but I admit that I do so
without any intuitive understanding. But there was a hope,
for a while, that having terminology which dealt with intent
would at least let the intent-priority folks talk intelligably
about their games.

Again, I'm not sure anymore that this is working. But that's
the logic.

As a GM I have two completely distinct styles, one which
prioritizes World and one which prioritizes Story. In both
cases I want the World to be consistent, but in the first
kind of game the World drives everything else, and in the
second the Story does. My player has absolutely no trouble
telling which approach I'm using, and will in fact recommend
one or the other for a given game.

The Story-priority games tend to die off, because for me that
style is a huge amount of ongoing work, much more work than
the World-priority style. World-priority requires more setup
but then takes on a "life of its own" and runs along with
relatively low effort. Story-priority never has a life of
its own for me, and requires constant maintenance (Bradd's
recent exchanges with me have some very good examples of what
the maintenance would be like).

Arguments that these two are really the same, therefore,
strike me as unhelpful. Yet the difference is
really intent. There's a visible pattern in results, but
from the GM's point of view that's just a side effect of
the difference in intent.

Mary Kuhner mkku...@eskimo.com

Beowulf Bolt

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May 9, 2003, 3:06:44 PM5/9/03
to
Magnus Lie Hetland wrote:
>
> Focusing on intent may not help if the intent is not reached. If the
> GM is intent on creating dramatic stories but fails -- what good would
> the threefold do?

This depends on how it fails. If it fails because the GM sucks at
telling stories, or because the type of story being told doesn't appeal
to the players, then the Threefold doesn't help.

If it failed because at key times the GM would deviate from the
storyline because "this is not what that NPC would do in this
situation", then this is another matter.

There are two types of intent being discussed here. An arching intent
for the whole campaign, and the intent driving an individual decision.
It is stylistic differences at the individual decision level that are
covered by the Threefold.

The Threefold is not the end-all or be-all of gaming, and doesn't
cover a myriad of possible player-GM disagreements. No-one has *ever*
claimed this to be the case. Thus, a failure of the Threefold to be
such an all-purpose tool is neither surprising nor proof that it is
broken.

> And, if applying the threefold to outcomes rather than intents can get
> you *flamed* (I didn't really follow the relevant discussions, so
> please excuse me if I misunderstood this), then I'm really shocked.

As well you should be because no such baseless flaming has ever taken
place, as far as I can see. We've had disagreements grow heated which
stemmed from this issue, but the flames were not themselves feeding upon
this disagreement.

Mary K. Kuhner

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May 9, 2003, 2:59:26 PM5/9/03
to
In article <slrnbbntc...@furu.idi.ntnu.no>,

Magnus Lie Hetland <m...@furu.idi.ntnu.no> wrote:
>In article <b9gr6o$f7o$1...@nntp3.u.washington.edu>, Mary K. Kuhner wrote:

>>The follow-up argument was that I should be perfectly happy
>>with game resolutions as long as each one was plausible in
>>the game-world, no matter how clearly I could see metagame
>>intent.

>I see your point. (Although -- what you were observing was, of course,
>the outcome, _shaped_ by the intent... Unless you were using a
>brainscanner of some kind ;)

Not necessarily. A player can have many tools with which to
judge the GM's intent:

--individual events in the game
--the pattern of events over time
--the GM's manner and bearing in adjucating those events
(is she covering the dice with her hand?)
--the GM's analysis of the game (when I had a multi-player
group we loved to go out to dinner and talk about the
just-completed game)
--accounts of previous games
--the GM's writing, Usenet posts, etc. describing her preferred
GMing style
--direct questions--"Hey, did you do that for reason X?"
--explicit game contract, if it exists

Since I care about intent, I am attentive for clues to
intent, and I certainly respond to more than just the single
in-game outcome. In some circumstances I will flat-out
ask, and I expect to be told the truth. But even when I
don't ask, I always have a theory and I'm constantly
accumulating evidence.

Players who don't care about intent, I presume, don't do
this. In many ways that sounds like a simpler mode of play,
and one with less scope for player/GM conflict. I just
can't play that way, I don't know why.

Mary Kuhner mkku...@eskimo.com

Mary K. Kuhner

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May 9, 2003, 3:09:21 PM5/9/03
to
In article <slrnbbnp4...@furu.idi.ntnu.no>,

Magnus Lie Hetland <m...@furu.idi.ntnu.no> wrote:

>Focusing on intent may not help if the intent is not reached. If the
>GM is intent on creating dramatic stories but fails -- what good would
>the threefold do?

I have found that when asking for GMing advice, it really, really
helps to make intent clear. "I am trying to make this game a
good story, and I'm failing for the following reasons--or, I
can't see why I'm failing, but I am. Can anyone help?"

If you don't make the intent clear, you get advice that is not
about making your stories better, it's about doing something
else, perhaps something you had no desire to do. This is
frustrating and tends to lead to lots of heat and little light.

When I am running a highly World-oriented game I've learned
*always* to make that clear before asking for help, or 99%
of the advice I get is not only useless but somewhat infuriating.

As for practical usefulness of the Threefold: I have, as I
mentioned earlier, two different GMing styles. Before I
realized this, I had a couple of radical campaign failures
due to trying to mix what are, to me, immiscible styles. It
helped to realize that if I focused on Story I was not going
to be able to achieve the advantages (basically, a world-model
that runs on its own) which I expect from games where I
focus on World, and vice versa. I was always wondering--
what's wrong with this campaign? Why are things that used
to be easy suddenly so hard?

None of this applies, however, to people who don't see a
tradeoff, or people whose style is resolutely in the middle
of the triangle. So they naturally find the model unhelpful
and annoying.

It also doesn't apply to people who think their particular
style is the One True Way, because no matter *what* I say to
them, they'll still give me advice from their True Way and
nothing else.

Some of the flame wars have to do with anger toward the second
group; and sometimes I think we've been unable to adequately
distinguish the first group from the second. I'd point at
Neel and Jason as clear examples of the first group; they
aren't one-true-way extremists, they just don't organize
their play in a way that these models enhance at all.

Mary Kuhner mkku...@eskimo.com

Russell Wallace

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May 9, 2003, 3:40:43 PM5/9/03
to
On 9 May 2003 18:59:26 GMT, mkku...@kingman.gs.washington.edu (Mary
K. Kuhner) wrote:

>Since I care about intent, I am attentive for clues to
>intent, and I certainly respond to more than just the single
>in-game outcome. In some circumstances I will flat-out
>ask, and I expect to be told the truth. But even when I
>don't ask, I always have a theory and I'm constantly
>accumulating evidence.
>
>Players who don't care about intent, I presume, don't do
>this.

Hmm. I think I do this to some extent as insurance.

I mostly don't care much about intent when things are going well;
don't look a gift horse in the mouth and all that. If problems arise,
though, an understanding of intent is critical to solving them, which
is the practical benefit I (at least sometimes) gain from having a
theory about what's going on there.

Russell Wallace

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May 9, 2003, 3:50:54 PM5/9/03
to
On 9 May 2003 19:09:21 GMT, mkku...@kingman.gs.washington.edu (Mary
K. Kuhner) wrote:

>As for practical usefulness of the Threefold: I have, as I
>mentioned earlier, two different GMing styles. Before I
>realized this, I had a couple of radical campaign failures
>due to trying to mix what are, to me, immiscible styles. It
>helped to realize that if I focused on Story I was not going
>to be able to achieve the advantages (basically, a world-model
>that runs on its own) which I expect from games where I
>focus on World, and vice versa. I was always wondering--
>what's wrong with this campaign? Why are things that used
>to be easy suddenly so hard?
>
>None of this applies, however, to people who don't see a
>tradeoff, or people whose style is resolutely in the middle
>of the triangle.

That's an interesting analysis... I'm somewhat middle of triangle
these days. (I mostly let the world run itself, but apply occasional
nudges for things like dramatic appropriateness, or giving X's
character something to do if he's been idle for a couple of hours, as
long as it isn't inconsistent with what's already been established.) I
know of course that other people can be at different places on the
triangle, but I hadn't really thought about the possibility of someone
being able to GM well at point A or B, but not halfway in between.

Peter Knutsen

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May 9, 2003, 4:06:19 PM5/9/03
to

Robert Scott Clark wrote:

> Peter very myopic. The only reason he can see for anyone ever wanting to
> use any rules-light system is because they like GM-fudging, and he has
> therefore invented his own terminology that enforces his faulty
> worldview.

In a rules-light campaign, you can't *avoid* lots of fudging. You
gotta determine outcomes somehow. It's a continuum where you have
rules at one end and fudging at the other end.

--
Peter Knutsen

Peter Knutsen

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May 9, 2003, 4:08:35 PM5/9/03
to

Beowulf Bolt wrote:

> From my POV the ability to apply the Threefold to fix a campaign is

Why only use the Threefold to fix an existing campaign? Why not use
it, instead of (or in addition to) fixing existing campaigns, to match
up with roleplaying gamers who share your preferences?

> Biff

--
Peter Knutsen

Russell Wallace

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May 9, 2003, 4:08:47 PM5/9/03