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(+8)

*Comes in gently banging a small tupperware box with a wooden spoon*

Mechanical tools are narrative tools.

Yeh sure if rulebooks specifically tell readers what themes their play should be embodying and what tropes they should play out in any given scene, then this will really help players create the narrative that the designer intended. But the structure of an encounter and how much a thing costs innately pushes players towards certain themes or tropes. If combat's in your game, then fighting is probly a good thing that players will be rewarded for actively seeking out. (Some games have combat without making it A Good Thing To Do. That's rare though.) So certain tropes and themes will innately come out of that, and others will be innately locked off. It's impossible to tell a story about how violence is never the answer when categorically it actually is the answer all of the time.

Games are the interactive medium. They speak the interactive language. The narrative emerges organically from play. It doesn't have to be tacked on.

So, basically every game comes with narrative guidance tools. I can't think of a single one that doesn't. (Otherwise I completely agree with everything being said in this thread and I'm eager to see where it goes.)

(+5)

I can see what you're saying here, and the argument is there for sure, but I think the main difference with what you're saying here and what I was putting up is that the mechanics you're talking about are implicitly narrative shaping tools, rather than explicit ones, and they tend to only cover fairly specific areas of gameplay. Building a fully implicit narrative toolkit is def. possible and something I think should be shot for (Lots of games that do narrative tools well, like the aforementioned Dreams Askew function really well this way), but they also assume inherent genre savvy and media awareness on the behalf of a GM/Player.

An example; D&D is clearly a combat focused game, where combat and violence shape the narrative naturally by its very inclusion and focus in the books, inarguably that's a narrative shaping going on there, but D&D raw doesn't tell a GM *how* to use that violence to tell a story besides its broad themes of Kill Stuff Good. It doesn't educate a player on how to build drama into their characters, it doesn't explain what kind of plot beats go best with which kind of monsters, dungeons and traps (tho some editions and third party content def. have spent some time on this). It tells you how big a dragon is, how much health it has, how much damage it does and how to kill one, but very rarely does it give examples of what a dragon can *mean*.  It's missing a very important element of passing down these storytelling tools - the education in their proper usage. 

I see where you're coming from, and I agree to a big degree that narrative and mechanics are best blended where you can, but properly written rules can contain these tropes explanations and media education without being tacked on, Dreams is a good example, I'm hoping my next release is a good version of it too.

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(+1)

especially given the increasing popularity of story-focused d&d actual play, i think a LOT of gamers are picking up d&d specifically to tell those kinds of stories - and many that i've talked to find themselves disappointed that they can't sit down and just have a critical role or an adventure zone or whatever just Happen, and talked to GMs who feel an immense pressure to build those stories lest they get lambasted as a bad GM despite not having the tools in the book to do that. i think its reasonable for games about playing roles of characters to have conversations about how better to give players the tools to tell the kinds of stories they want to tell?

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okay. people are allowed to also like telling stories with their friends though and would like to have more tools to do that? 

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(+2)

"I am trying to not be rude, but damn do I hate this style of 'dnd needs rules and guidelines on explicitly constructing stories and narrative.'" sure sounds like 'it is hard not to be rude to you for suggesting that people should have more tools to tell engaging stories with eachother' to me

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(+23)

Dungeons & Dragons is a perfect example. The narrative of that game is colonisation. You kill people. You take their stuff. Once you have more stuff, you can kill more people. You can then take their stuff. Once you have more stuff, you can kill more people. You can then take their stuff. And so on, and so on, until players want to start a new campaign. The power scaling taps out around the point the average campaign stops. (Hence why we hit 20th Level under WotC and silly stuff like 50th Level under TSR.

In the fiction of the game, the people you kill are backward savages. If you don't kill them now, then they will eventually come and kill you. So in the fiction, your character is not some wanton murderer. They are noble. The fact that this was the cultural justification for real life colonialist genocides and atrocities is not a coincidence. You couldn't possibly tackle colonisation as a theme in storytelling without engaging with the ugliness of it.

Unfortunately, this is a game that doesn't tackle colonisation for critique. The colonisers in the game are heroes because the creators of the game believed the real life colonisers to be heroes. Gary Gygax agreed that the hobby suffered from male domination, but he handwaved the issue with biological essentialist rhetoric, saying that women don't play D&D because their brains are lesser developed and unable to keep up with the complexity of the game, not because men create unsafe and hostile environments for women. When one of the early creators had biological essentialist views, is it any surprise that the game features race science as a basic mechanic? Orcs get a penalty to Intelligence. Elves get a bonus. It's literally called "Racial Traits".

Gygax is long gone. Now we have Mike Mearls. A man who is widely known for having carried out surveillance for a serial rapist. Wizards of the Coast could easily release a 6e that doesn't heavily feature race science. Just you watch. They won't do it. Because it still aligns with their political values.

They want the games to be more diverse and inclusive. So the rulebooks and supplements have more artwork and illustrations depicting black adventurers, right next to the lore and text dumping racist slurs uncritically on the fantasy setting. Gygax and Mearls both want marginalised and oppressed communities to come to D&D despite hostility, instead of wanting to actively create a safer community. These values then are reflected in the game design.

Sandy Pug Games, you're right. What I was talking about was implicit narrative tools. What you were talking about was explicit narrative tools. But I didn't raise the issue out of mere pedantry. Here in this very thread, we can see a full polemic being carried out on a dichotomy that doesn't exist. 'D&D without narrative' versus 'D&D with narrative'. Trad gamers versus story gamers.

It's true that D&D lacks explicit narrative tools. But adding them would not look like adding a chapter to the rulebook teaching players how to recreate Critical Roll or Adventure Zone. It wouldn't be a new chapter at all. It would be a simple and straightforward honesty with the theme of colonisation. Just change 'adventurer' to 'coloniser', and that's it. You've done it. That's D&D with explicit narrative tools.