If you can cut through the chest-beat­ing and infight­ing, the Forge forums con­tain a lot of inter­est­ing ideas on the work­ings of table­top RPGs. For exam­ple, here’s Ron Edwards (a con­tro­ver­sial but high­ly influ­en­tial fig­ure in the indie RPG scene) talk­ing about the var­i­ous kinds of con­trol play­ers and game mas­ters can have over a game’s sto­ry­world:

  • Con­tent author­i­ty — over what we’re call­ing back-sto­ry, e.g. whether Sam is a KGB mole, or which NPC is boink­ing whom 
  • Plot author­i­ty — over crux-points in the knowl­edge base at the table — now is the time for a rev­e­la­tion! — typ­i­cal­ly, reveal­ing con­tent, although notice it can apply to play­er-char­ac­ters’ mate­r­i­al as well as GM mate­r­i­al — and look out, because with­in this author­i­ty lies the remark­able pit­fall of want­i­ng (for instances) rev­e­la­tions and reac­tions to apply pre­cise­ly to play­ers as they do to char­ac­ters 
  • Sit­u­a­tion­al author­i­ty — over who’s there, what’s going on — scene fram­ing would be the most rel­e­vant and obvi­ous tech­nique-exam­ple, or phras­es like “That’s when I show up!” from a play­er 
  • Nar­ra­tional author­i­ty — how it hap­pens, what hap­pens — I’m sug­gest­ing here that this is best under­stood as a fea­ture of res­o­lu­tion (includ­ing the entire­ty of IIEE), and not to mis­take it for describ­ing what the cas­tle looks like, for instance; I also sug­gest it’s far more shared in appli­ca­tion than most role-play­ers real­ize

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Kars Alfrink

Kars is a designer, researcher and educator focused on emerging technologies, social progress and the built environment.