On RPG Theory: S

Long letter S: Such a popular letter. Today's a long one!

Brought to you by the number, oh god, why won't you end already April. . .

Scene Framing: Three weeks later aaaaaaaaand you're there!

Screen Time: Otherwise known as spotlight time. Giving each character their moment in the sun. Notice that the opposite design (floodlight time) means everyone plays the same character.

 Setting: "I invoke the spell shard an-"
"Dude, we're in Forgotten Realms"
"Oh, Uh, Spellfire then?"

Shared Imaginary Space: Coined by Fang Langford for the events that take place during the game - the space in everyone's head where the adventure takes place.

Simulationism: Here's another big one. There's always been sort of a snide slant in discussions about this, and it is certainly one of the three pillars that is hardest to define.

The short definition of Simulationism is, comes from the Threefold Model FAQ (which predates the essays). It says "Values resolving in-game events are based solely on game-world considerations, without allowing any meta-game concerns to affect the decision."

This is totally a definition I can live with - it means when someone comes up with the great idea of hiring a hundred dudes to go clear out the dungeon, instead of addressing it using rules, you take their cue and the game becomes not about the dungeon, but the consequence of trying to hire 100 men in town.

The definition in the essay is less clear.  It starts with a a discussion of some of Gygax's words that shows an astounding misinterpretation of the design goals and ethics of his work. Then moves over to a long and difficult to parse discussion of what basic "simulationist practice" is. In order to keep the length of these concise, I will avoid a point by point response.

In a discussion on resolution mechanics, he says:
"Two games may be equally Simulationist even if one concerns coping with childhood trauma and the other concerns blasting villains with lightning bolts. What makes them Simulationist is the strict adherence to in-game (i.e. pre-established) cause for the outcomes that occur during play."
Ok, so how does that not apply to every role-playing game again?

I know that what I'm doing here may seem cheap - but that quote isn't out of context. The essay is long, confusing, full of statements that are self-contradictory, unclear, and filled with unproven assertions.

Situation: "What's going on again?"

Social Context: Man, you just cannot bring up D&D at a bar and expect to get laid!

Social Contract: Not worth the paper it's not written on. Sorry. Old habit. Defined as "The sum of all interactions and relationships among members of the role playing group. Weird, because, how is that a contract? I think this has more to do with expectations.

Specialist: One of Robin's seven player types

Stakes: Another useful term. What is up to be gained or lost from a conflict! This phrase has a lot to do with why Dogs in the Vineyard is such a good game - even if, you know, mormons.

Stance: Tied up in all these complex definition wars, the word basically means how you are currently playing the game. Are you thinking 'in-character'? trying to steer where the game is going? metagaming?

Step On Up: The Ron Edwards catchphrase for gameism.

Story: Defined as a 'tricky term' meaning no one will clearly define it and everyone is using it to mean a different thing.

Story Now: The Ron Edwards catchphrase for Narrativism.

Storyteller: The White Wolf DM, also, a Blacow Player type.

Synecdoche: Oh, it's a 10 cent word smart people like to use, meaning using a part of something to represent the whole (hand for sailor) or the whole thing for a part of something (Law for police)

System: Another word defined as "Broadly used term with multiple meanings". I am not being thinking anyone has been published in many scientific journals, no?


  1. Hey, only a few more letters to go. I haven't been posting much, but I've found these posts of yours to be the only one of the A-Z challenges I've kept up with.

  2. So how come "floodlight" was listed on "F" day?

  3. It was? I'm pretty sure it wasn't mentioned in J. Kim's theory dictionary. It did come up somewhere in the spotlight discussion.

  4. Missed a "not" in there. Therefore, "so how come floodlight was NOT listed on 'F' day?

    Stupid Friday morning thought fog...


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