I was listening to an old Discern Realities podcast, and was thinking…

I was listening to an old Discern Realities podcast, and was thinking…

I was listening to an old Discern Realities podcast, and was thinking…

I find it very helpful to use the framing of a film or tv show (what does that look like ‘onscreen?’) buuut I also wonder if there’s been any substantial conversation about what it means to mentally yolk tabletop games to the form of visual media or whether people have been “theorizing” or whatever what it would mean to consciously develop tabletop description and action as it’s own form? Am I making any sense? I’m fairly new to the community, so if this is all well-covered territory, I’d be fascinated to hear/ read about it.

9 thoughts on “I was listening to an old Discern Realities podcast, and was thinking…”

  1. There are some nifty tricks you can use at the table that don’t exist in visual media. Mostly to do with direct experience and internal sensory stuff. “You feel like you’re being watched.” “The air in this place is hot and stuffy.”

    You see it in dungeon world quite a bit with a question-forward GM. “What here reminds you of your childhood?” “What aspect of the monster terrifies you most?”

  2. I do compare the GM to a director or editor on occasion. the comparison I find more apt is to a DJ. A DJ is working with multiple sources in real time. In that model the GM is trying to keep the action balanced between inputs to create a more harmonious output.

  3. Continuing my podcasting, I was listening to the folks on Friends At The Table play Mechnoir (which I’ve never played). In particular, what I found interesting is the mechanic of adding adjectives to things.

    Now, this seems very specific to the form of tabletop gaming insofar as it allows players to act directly on the essence of a thing (a scene, a character, or whatever. Like I said, I’ve never actually played.) and then work out the consequences that the adjective inflected afterward.

    On the other hand hand, in DW, my tendency is to view character interactions with the world as taking place onscreen first, and affecting the essence of the scene as a consequence. This means that players aren’t necessarily taking on that role of director/DJ with me, because their characters can’t affect the essence of the scene directly through meta (adding adjectives) and instead have to engage with the scene through its representation as mediated by fictional/narrative object/characters/forces.

    Of course, this isn’t universal about DW. Moves that allow players to choose from a list of options often transcend this, i think. And I’m not saying that I think that one or the other orientation is definitely better, but I am pointedly interested in looking at mechanics that allow the players to engage the fiction in a way that goes deeper than the simulation into the meta, because those are often going to be the mechanics that allow tabletop roleplay to really identify itself as something distinctly different than a pen and paper video game.

  4. I find it’s a good reflex to think about the game as a movie/TV series because of the way pbta games work. I’ve played D&D for about 15 years and this never crossed my mind, but as soon as I start playing DW it naturally occured to me. I think it’s because of the way the GM has to handle spotlight (because there’s no “turns/turn order” in pbta games).

    Sure, as explained above, it goes beneath this because you can describe sensory data and internal thinking, memory and such of characters. In that sense, that part of DW is closer to a novel than TV media.

    It is useful to think of the game as a TV media though as it allows to focus on what’s fun and exciting. In D&D you’d rule that to get a potion and drink it, it costs you a certain amount of action. In DW you’d go : “well, searching the potion in the character’s pack and drinking it isn’t super interesting, lets just say that he did that “out of frame” and now that the camera is on you, what cool action are we seeing?”. It helps manage the spotlight in a more interesting way, allowing you to think “well, this character wants to do 3 things and it will be more interesting to resolve all of them right now.”

  5. harper mcq You get plenty of opportunity to affect the fiction in a meaningful ways.

    Everything that relates to a character is, to me, the purview of this character. Somethimes it’s more “trappings” then anything, such as “What landmark do you follow to get to the Dark Tower?”, but other times it’s explicitely affecting the fiction and the world as a whole in a meaningful way.

    For example, if The Cleric player who just found a religion idol asks me “What god does this idol represents?” I always tell him : “I dunno, you’re the cleric, you tell us!”

  6. Peter Cobcroft I’ve actually listened to all of this podcast and think it’s great. Cordova is sort of what made me think about this precisely because he puts so much emphasis on thinking about the events of the session like a film. Listening to his various podcasts has helped me quite a bit to think about how I want my games to run.

    I guess what I’m saying is that I see the merits of thinking about the session in the context of the film, and I want to say Yes, And…

    I also think it’s worth it to think about what the medium of tabletop roleplay gives us to play with that is distinct to itself. I just want to tease out some of the differences between tabletop roleplay and some other story-driven entertainments, and develop them, as it were.

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