Thursday, November 01, 2007

Lesson: Forge Theory - Scope Exercise

In present incarnation of the Forge theory there are four scopes or layers of RPGs. At the top is the Social Contract, narrowing to Exploration, then to Techniques, and finally Ephemera as the smallest scope for looking at RPGs.

Things that happen in RPGs can be seen in one or more of these scopes. If you're not somewhat familiar with these take a look at this lesson. Then try to figure out which scope or scopes the following things can be placed into:

An argument between players.

An argument between characters.

The resolution of a fictional conflict.

A player correcting something he just said.

A player correcting another player about a past event in play.

A shout from an excited player.

The positions of miniatures.

How dice are rolled and read.

Who holds the character sheets between sessions.

Who can look at character sheets during the game.

You might try writing down your answers and then looking over them later. Did you pick some scopes that you don't feel fit anymore? Did you miss some scopes that make more sense the second time around?

1 comment:

Tommi said...

An argument between players is part of social contract (because everything is). It might also be part of exploration and techniques, if it is about the diegesis in some for or shape.

An argument between chars is in social contract (by definition, all roleplaying is subset of it), exploration, and if it actually matters to the players and the game, techniques. This is because the argument may or may not have power to "introduce fictional characters, place or events". It may instead be a way of players amusing themselves when the spotlight is elsewhere.
The argument might be ephemera if it is glossed over very quickly ("We argue about it a bit but then she gets her way, as usual.") Anything longer and it no longer fits in the definition.

The resolution of a fictional conflict certainly is part of social contract and exploration. Conflicts resolving tend to introduce new events (consequences of the resolution), so I'd say that the resolving one is a technique; the resolution itself an ephemera.

Player correcting something he said is an ephemera, and also part of social contract. If the correction is related to diegesis, the handling of the correction would be a technique, and the correction might be part of exploration. If something in diegesis is changed, "might" becomes "would".

A player correcting another player about the past events is part of social contract and is an ephemera. If these past events are part of diegesis (explicitly or implicitly), as they likely are, this is part of exploration. The acceptance or denial, and process of getting there, are a technique.

A shout from an excited player is an ephemera and hence part of the social contract. Unless the game gives some specific diegetical significance to player shouts (I don't know any that does, but it is possible), the shout is not exploration. Scratch that, it doesn't work. If the players and the rules give no diegetic significance to the shout, then it is not part of exploration. This is possible, as is the negation. Technique mere shouting is not.

Assuming that it happens in play, a given position of miniatures is certainly an ephemera, and hence by definition part of social contract (kinda dumb, but that's the definition). If the positions map to diegesis, the positions are part of exploration. Too small for a technique.

How dice are rolled and read is certainly a technique (and part of social contract). If the method directly maps to fiction (say, the dice are actually the Fates, cheering or mocking your character, depending on the results) or is part of communication (they are rolled in the open, say) it is part of exploration. Thinking a bit, dice rolled behind the screen are also communication. Okay, it would be extremely difficult to roll the dice so that it is not communication. Maybe in computer-mediated play and rolling the dice and no telling about it to the other players. That would work. So not necessarily part of exploration, though that is an extreme fringe case.

Who holds the char sheets is par of social contract (surprise). As it does not happen during play, it is not part of the other sets.

Who can look at the char sheets during game is part of social contract and is also a technique. A given instance would be ephemera. If the act of looking at char sheets has specific diegetic or communicative value, it would also be exploration.

I used the definitions in Forge's provisional glossary.

-Tommi Brander