Archive for January 4th, 2009

Drama, Fortune, Karma, and…?

2009 Jan 4

I was realizing today that, with Jeep, leading with the fiction, and structured freeform finally emerging as non-resolution oriented design and play styles, the resolution-based vocabulary we inherited from Jonathan Tweet doesn’t really suffice anymore for talking about the basis for making decisions during play.

Specifically, in Everway, Tweet suggests that there are three kinds of resolution:

DRAMA: Based on what would be the most interesting thing to have happen.
FORTUNE: Rolling dice, drawing cards, using other randomizers.
KARMA: Comparing different things, such as numbers or traits.

What would you call the ritual negotiation of Polaris or Mist-Robed Gate? It doesn’t seem to be any of these. I might be tempted to call it, um, PROCESS, as in, you follow a series of directions and thereby arrive at the result. That would allow it to cover other practices that don’t necessary take the form of inter-player negotiation, such as the monsters in Mwaantaangaand (which take the form of descriptors that color play for a set number of turns).

However, since Tweet’s terms are specifically about resolution, at some point they just stop being the most helpful way of thinking about play that doesn’t revolve around resolution. Even Mwaantaangaand’s monsters aren’t resolved as much as endured and trying to describe that kind of thing in Tweet-like terms is not completely satisfying. It’s going to take a paradigm shift in theory in order to effectively begin describing these newer styles of design and play, but, unfortunately, I’m not really sure that’s happening yet, at least anywhere that I can see. I don’t even remember the Nordic con books really getting into the guts of how situations are structured and developed through play.

Anybody got a better read on this?