But still, to present you all with some evidence, let me show you a few sources I dragged together:
[quote]Each adventure is a story, and the player characters are its heroes, but with an important distinction: Their actions are not determined by an author, but rather by the players themselves.
[Then later, in the chapter “The Referee”]
… it is a good idea to conduct as many of the event resolution die rolls as possible yourself and then announce the results. This makes the game seem less mechanical to the players and enables you [to] add a secret die roll modifier here or there to make things come out right without anyone being the wiser.[/quote]
[From Space: 1889 (1988, GDW Inc.)]
So it’s the Referee’s job to “make things come out right without anyone being the wiser”. But the players determine the actions of their characters.
This is (combined with the recommendation to keep players away from the dice and the mechanics) prime instruction material for Illusionism.
(Which can be a functional form of gaming, but only (imho) if everyone is on board with what’s happening. Although when that’s the case, its actually called Participationism.)
So yeah, this is probably just bad advice, right? After all, this was written ages ago… but there’s more to come…
[quote]What happens in a game
Characters will have goals they want to attain, and obstacles to overcome. The story that the narrator creates will provide the setting and the plot. In that plot the characters might stumble into adventure accidentally, or become embroiled in international espionage, or choose to seek out fame and fortune as tomb-robbers or pirates. The important point is that the players author the tale through the actions of their characters. [/quote]
[From Maelstrom (1994, Hubris Games)]
Ouch. Now this one is a real mess when you look at it closely. The narrator creates the story. But characters provide goals. Oh, because really, the narrator only provides setting and plot. But, the characters have obstacles to overcome (of their players’ own choosing? How’s that work with a plot made by the narrator?)
Ah, I see it now - the players author the tale!
None of this makes any sense. I am of course aware that not everybody has managed to stay awake during their Literature 101 classes (or even been to any), but come on… When you’re making a roleplaying game, and wanna talk about story, plot and authoting in it - at least get your terms straight, would you?!
Like a novel author or an actor in a drama, each player in a role-playing game creates a persona, or character, to portray in the game … the player responds to the situation of the adventure as it unfolds, deciding what the character would say or do in that situation. They don’t just watch the character, they choose the character’s options.
Management of the game is performed by a special player known as the referee. … Like the director of a movie, the referee judges what can and cannot be accomplished in a particular scene. [/quote]
[From Traveller (1996, Imperium Games Inc.)]
This one starts out fine (player responds to situation, deciding what the character would do…), but stumbles not even halfway through.
Are we seriously supposed to believe that a player “chooses the character’s options”? While at the same time the referee judges “what can and cannot be accomplished”?
This is plain contradictory. But hey, maybe that was just the spirit of the times, eh?
Here’s another one from the same year:
[quote]Tsyk is not about players versus the GM. It is about the cooperative weaving of a tale that everybody can enjoy. It does not make sense to use the powers of gamemastery to try and dominate the personas, or to be spiteful over their successes in the game.
Though it is the job of the GM to guide the characters through the adventure, it is always the decisions of the players that dictate the actions of the personas.
[From Tsyk (1996, Propaganda Publishing)]
First two sentences, no quibbles for me there. But then it jumps right back and expects me to believe (let alone understand) how the players’ decisions can dictate the actions of the personas, while the GM guides the characters through an adventure.
I mean, sure, we all know what they really mean, dont we? Or at least, I think everyone thinks he or she knows what they really must have meant.
Obviously, there is a grey area here - some sort of compromise, or back-and-forth of “story control” or whatever you wanna call it.
I just think it’s astonishing that so many of these game texts use formulations that include “control”, “dictate”, “choose”, “judge” etc. (which make you think of, well, having control over something).
And none of them manages to adress the necessary, essential, ever-present “sharing of narrative responsibilities and prerogatives”, the back-and-forth, the compromises… that make up a huge bulk of all roleplaying in practice.
This constitutes, at the very least, a grave case of false advertising if you ask me
[quote]ADVICE TO THE EG
The role of the Eminence Grise [The GM in this game] is crucial. He is the balance-keeper of the game. He must prepare - and often create from scratch - thrilling plots and describe the settings and their inhabitants … In short, he enables the players to live a good heroic-fantasy adventure. He must create a tale in which the players’ characters have the lead roles, in which they can, through their actions, bring the story to one end or another.
In our world, the EG would be called a director or storyteller. Indeed, he is simultaneously writer, director, and actor in a play or movie, which improvises itself as hours of gameplay fly by.[/quote]
[From Agone (2001, Multisim Publishing)]
Again - starts out fine and good, deteriorates from there. “He must create a tale”, but the players “have the lead roles”. That would be Participationism (in which you are basically “along for the ride” as a player, content in the fact that mostly, you just get told an awesome story and get to make some minor decisions along the way) so far. Potentially functional, so yeah.
But wait. The last sentence suddenly turns to focus on the EG only, and not only does it give him no less than three jobs that all but scream “story control!” (director, storyteller, writer), no, the sentence then goes on to claim that the game (which is likened to a “play or movie”) “improvises itself”… somehow…
I stand astounded.