thread: 2006-01-24 : Still More Character Ownership

On 2006-01-25, Dave wrote:

I think I see at least 2 ways people are interpreting V’s boldfaced assertion “Let the events of the game’s fiction choose whether your character is a protagonist or a supporting character.” And, I posit, it will matter which way you’re taking it. Because Vincent’s Band of Brothers example was really helpful to me in examining this idea, I’m going to use WWII examples.

One way is people like Tris, in comment 42. He interprets the phrase to mean that anytime the story is not clearly focused on you (eg spotlight episode), the GM will say “Grenade lands in your trench! Everyone roll a d6 and if you roll 6, you’re dead!” Random (and quite possibly meaningless) character death may ensue for all but one or two characters who weren’t required to make the roll.

The other way is Vincent’s PTA adjustment in comment 9 and Sydney’s marginalia in Lisa’s comment (24):“if you tell me up front “you’re doing the supporting character now, plug into the protagonist’s story according to these guidelines,” I’ve got a better guarantee of relevance than traditional “my Guy” ever gave.” In this interpretation, the events of the fiction still somehow determine the degree of a character’s (note, I did not say _your_ character’s) protagonism, but they do it with enough warning that whoever’s controlling that character can participate in guiding that character towards their (now determined) role in the fiction. So, as play begins in our imaginary WWII game, everyone rolls a d6, and those who roll a 6 know that the character they’re currently controlling won’t survive the play session. Notice, same basic mechanic, different timetable. Its now up to the player to help mold the fiction to make sure that character dies this episode, meaningfully or not. Everyone knows this is a WWII game and that at the beginning of every session, they’re going to make this roll. The player has some time, and presumably some well-designed in-game method, of making sure it all fits together.

In my [personal] view, the second way does a much better job of supporting co-ownership of the fiction (allowing, for example, a player to say “Ok, this shootout is where my character is going to die, but I want you, Joe, to be the one who says exactly how it happens”), and has a much better chance at being ‘satisfying’ from a player perspective, _even_ if players who lose the character in the first way can keep playing meaningfully somehow (since we assume the same is true if they die the second way).

Is this distinction important to anyone else? Am I making sense with this?


This makes TB go "Loads, but..."
I think you are letting the protagonism dictate the fiction, not the fiction dictate the protagonism, which was the original idea.

This makes VAX go "Exactly."

This makes DY go "Interesting, TB"
I see what you're saying with that. But isn't it kind of letting the fiction dictate how the protagonism will dictate the fiction?

This makes TB go "Dice => fiction?"
Well, I don't see the dice as described as part of the fiction. It seems like letting a random element decide the protagonism, which then dictates the fiction.

This makes DY go "Not Always"
In my example, you're right; everybody rolling a die isn't the same as fiction. But, look at Ian's example, and I think that _is_ fiction->protagonism->fiction , in a way that's still like my second mode here.

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