Friday, September 21, 2007

Lesson: Forge Theory - Scoping of the Model

One of the more prominent theories of RPGs is that developed at The Forge. The present incarnation of this theory is built upon many past developments and ideas in RPG theory. Called variously Forge theory, the Big Model, or GNS, it is often a complex collection of ideas, some current, and some out-moded by later discussions.

At present the Forge theory is based on a way of breaking down play into four scopes, in a nested form. The largest scope is the Social Contract. Somewhat of a misnomer, this level includes all the social elements of play, making it essentially include everything going on during the game. As the name suggests this is the level were social agreements and understandings are built, but it is not limited to them.

The next scope is that of the Exploration. This is where the fiction of play starts to present itself. Exploration is typically broken into several categories: character, situation, system, setting, and color. These interact during the course of the game, but are considered to lie at this scope of the model.

The next scope is called Techniques, which is where practices of play are located. This can be everything from specific ways to resolve combat attacks to unstated rules on the importance of characters.

The lowest scope is Ephemera, where the actual events of play are considered.

These four scopes are a way of zooming in on play to help tease apart theoretical understanding. In a nut shell, they present four ways of looking at what happens during a RPG.

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