Hofrat erklärt die Welt, Nte Episode

Aus einer Diskussion auf theRPGsite. Ich kann und will euch das nicht vorenthalten.

I promised to think.
Thunk I have.


Story has become a loaded word in internet discourse. The ways it has been loaded up from different sides shall be assumed as being known. I for one, have been guilty of loading it up with a negative connotation.
I equalled it with railroading, onanistic playstyle, player rape, method acting and all kinds of similar stuff I think of very lowly.

Are those connotations making sense? Do they really capture something?
Does the use of the word in it`s current guise help discourse?

First, let me tell you that I am of the uttermost and sternest belief, that there is a cultural divide in the hobby. Actually, there are even more cleavages, but for simplicity I will assume there is only one big one.

Story is supposed to either relate or be disconnected from the RPG hobby.

This is the argument, at it`s barest bones.

The first problem arises from the definition of Roleplaying Games, people all over the ‚Net confuse a lot of stuff there.

Roleplaying is a method, call it technique, if you like. It shall be hereby defined as:

Extrapolation of virtual situations through verbal negotiation.

What`s a roleplaying game then? Anytime, the method of roleplay is used for leisure, i.g. in a game

It`s easy to show, that the first instances of roleplay use were of a certain ilk, played by certain people in a specific context. Namely miniature wargamers with an interest in fantasy/sf. They created D&D, and thereby Adventure Gaming as we know it.

So, as RPGs existed only in the guise of Adventure Games for quite some time, they becams synonymous.

Wait! Where does the Role enter?, you might say.
I say, to negotiate virtual situations it is very convenient, to assign different particiators different roles. these can be parties, countries, military units, cliques, any other group, or individuals. As we have seen, RPGs became prominent through D&D, which main revolutions were:

– focus on individual fantasy playing piece
– facilitating the method of roleplay for some parts of the game

Thusly, the

Roleplay == play/portrayal of individual character

is a fallacy stemming from history. That`s why I talk about role assumption, when others talk about roleplay. Nobody will change this, as the word Roleplay itself easily lends to this assumption. Thereby, we should stick to Method of Roleplay when we want to reference it.

Can the MoR be used for other stuff besides fantasy adventure gaming? Sure! It has been and will be used way more often in education and planning or even therapy, than for leisure activities. That`s why we have to differentiate it from role assumption commonly referred to just as roleplay.

Now we know what an RPG is, let`s look at story:

Story is a big word, with a well understood place in english language, as well as a wide range of meaning.

Which is the meaning I am so against to have in my games. Easy, it`s the dramatic element.

When someone says, he likes to create a story with his game, then I assume he does not mean just „narrative“.
A narrative can be formed with RPGs and as a matter of fact everytime the MoR is used for anything, well everything that happens can be made into a narrative.
Thusly, we can renounce the possibility that the person in question is meaning story after the aforementioned „weak“ point of view.

What does he mean, when saying story?

Well actually nobody knows. If anybody knew, there wouldn`t have been so much trainwreck discussions, and even worse trainwreck games, especiall by people who all wanted story.

So, which kind of story do I want to keep out of my game?
Easy, remember, the dramatic type. This is to say, there are a lot of people, who, for historical reasons have encountered the MoR in the guise of Adventure Games, while not coming from a tradition of wargaming. Some of them even come from a background of comic books, fantasy novels and TV-Shows. And some of them don`t want or cannot get into the wargaming mindset. Some of them want to recreate the drama from comic books and TV-Shows and Blockbuster Movies. Of course they can use RPGs for it, as RPGs have the MoR in them, one of the most powerful methods humans have for emulating something. So they go out, and recreate the dramatic strucure of their idols. And this is where any regular (war-)game element comes to a screeching halt. Either you emulate dramatic structures, or you have freedom of participants actions, both do not go together. This shift in aims is responsible for most, if not all conflicts in gaming and has divided the RPG hobby into distinct hobbies, but not in a harsh and clear cut manner, but in a hazy and fudgy sort of way.

In conclusion, I can say:

– story as a word is too broad to convey precise meaning
– the actual implied meaning has to be guessed
– most of the time story implies „having dramatic structure“
– the precise kind of dramatic structure is even then unknown
– whatever you do with the MoR as long as you use it as a leisure activity,
you are playing RPGs

Harking back to my initial questions:

Are those connotations making sense?


Do they really capture something?


Does the use of the word in it`s current guise help discourse?


Diskussion im O.R.K

2 Gedanken zu „Hofrat erklärt die Welt, Nte Episode

  1. Bezeichnest du mit MoR jetzt das Übernehmen einer Rolle oder Rollenspiel wie du es oben definiert hast (gemäß dem „umgangssprachlichen“ lumpley-Prinzip)?Wie ist das „some parts“ in „facilitating some parts of the game“ zu verstehen?

  2. Huch, Dich Apokryphiker habe ich ganz übersehen. Hier diAntwort:Übernehmen einer Rolle ist erstaml nicht MoR. Aber es geht fast immer damit einher, da man ja meist die KI für einen Akteur/Akteursgruppe darstellen soll.@some parts: na eben das, bei Dippy z.B. für die Verhandlungen. Oder bei Siedler zum Handeln.

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