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A Storyist Manifesto

Discussion in 'Never Ending Stories' started by The Strategos, Jan 13, 2009.

  1. The Strategos

    The Strategos Thanatos

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    A Storyist Manifesto

    Prologue

    This is a Storyist Manifesto. Notice, it is a Storyist Manifesto, not the Storyist Manifesto. I make no claim to represent all Storyists or its positions. Some Storyists will find what I say useful, others will anathematize it. In addition, it can be characterized as a Storyist Manifesto for NESing in the particular, not NESing in general. In other words, this manifesto does not seek to mandate its content on anyone, and recognizes that other people may have fun running and playing in a NES in a different manner. For more information on the different NESing philosophies other than Storyist see an overview of all the philosophies and a Simulationist Manifesto.


    Purpose

    What then is the purpose of this manifesto? Why spend time thinking, writing, reading and debating the ideas presented? Wouldn’t ones time be better spent writing stories or orders for an actual NES? The overriding purpose of this manifesto is to provide a framework for players, moderators (both potential and actual), and interested parties to improve in their playing, moderating, rule creation, and other NESing related activities. Without said framework, one cannot measure “improvement” or “success.” It is also designed to mobilize interested members into carrying out a program which will ensure the betterment of Storyist ideals, allowing Storyist minded players and moderators to develop and play in NESes that they will find more enjoyable.


    Definition

    The definition of a Storyist, as used in this Manifesto, is one who seeks to immerse themselves fully in the world of the NES and thereby accurately roleplay their chosen vessel(s) through stories, orders, graphics, and other means.


    Various Roles

    Rules: Rules exist to enhance the immersion experience for both player and moderator, thereby allowing for more faithful and consistent roleplaying.

    Players: Players exist to roleplay their chosen vessel(s) in such a manner as to enhance the depth of immersion into the fictionalized world for both themselves and other players.

    Moderators: Moderators exist to enhance the immersion factor for their players by using the powers they have reserved for themselves prior to the start of the NES, or the powers they decide are necessary for the successful maintenance of the game once it starts.

    Stories: Stories are any public medium (including but not limited to diplomacy, graphics, and “traditional” storytelling) or secret, non-orders medium, which fleshes out the fictionalized world of the NES.

    Orders: Orders are a secret, non-public medium sent to the Moderator, which fleshes out the fictionalized world of the NES


    Explanation

    Storyists are primarily concerned with immersing themselves in the world of the NES and exploring and explaining to others the setting in which they are playing. Terms such as “winning” and “competing” are meaningless to Storyists, who prefer terms such as “creating,” “exploring,” and “cooperative writing.” The ideal NES, from a Storyist perspective, is one where players and moderators put together stories, orders, and other activities related to the NES in an atheistically pleasing manner, in much the same way that a mosaic is formed through varied and independent pieces.

    During the game the Storyist player will operate with the goal of reaching “total immersion.” Total immersion is the state where the Player identifies with the reality of the game. To put it another way, the Storyist will make decisions and actions using only knowledge and perceptions of their chosen vessel(s). In order to accomplish this goal, the Storyist focuses on “character,” “setting,” “color,” and “narrative.”

    “Character,” as used here, refers to the vessel(s) the Storyist is roleplaying. Depending upon the setting, the “character” being played can be a leader of a nation, a ruling party, a citizen of the nation, or another vessel from the world of the NES. Depending upon the NES type, the Storyist may feel free to switch character perspective often within the context of the game, writing from the perspective of a member of the army in one story, an anti-government member in another, and a ruler of a nation in a third, all within the context of one update. While doing this, however, the Storyist is not intending to garner some benefit (such as minimizing internal dissent of their nation or making a technological breakthrough). Instead, when the Storyist changes perspective, they should construct individual personalities, roleplaying them. These personalities include what make people humans, what their background is, their political leanings, their allies, their enemies, formative events in their lives, physical appearance, etc. The best characters, the ones that Storyists come back to again and again, are ones that are three dimensional, that have quirks, flaws, loves, hates, addictions, purpose, etc.

    “Setting” is the part of the story that cannot be roleplayed, but adds to the immersion of the NES. Included in this area are things like governmental structures, economics, religions, cultures, entertainment, geography, etc. This is what makes worlds feel real.

    “Color” is the frills of a story that heighten the “reality” of the story, and by extension, the world in which the story takes place. It is the smoke-filled bar, the winter battle, grimy streets, and men who wear too much cologne.

    “Narrative” is actions of the “Characters” in the “setting.” Put another way, it is the “story” or developing action within the world of the NES. It is the wars, the betrayals, the political maneuvering, and the spy games.

    In order for the Storyist to optimally immerse themselves within the game, these elements, especially the “narrative” of the NES must be internally consistent. Internal consistency is defined as the framework in which the individual actions of Players and Moderators occur.. This framework is necessary in order to achieve the Storyist’s goal of creating a cooperative story with the Moderator and other Players, rather than having a non-internally consistent NES, where Moderator and Player stories are disjointed and have no relation. To achieve internal consistency, players and moderators must follow certain “rules” regarding characters, setting, color, and narrative. For example, writing a story about dragons is internally consistent in a fantasy NES, but not in a historical NES.

    Because of this need for internal consistency, players dedicated to running a Storyist game cannot do whatever they please. Having a non-consistent world (or not following the alt-historical realism), destroys immersion. Even one player performing in a non alt-historical realistic fashion can interfere with the goal of immersion. It would be like seeing a historical drama movie set in the 17th century where you see planes flying overhead. Every instance of non-alt-historical realism that occurs forces the Storyist to de-immerse from the game and translate the action into the context of the game. When enough of these de-immersive events take place, the Storyist is forced into a dualistic thinking, the immersive nation that they constructed versus the de-immersive world of the NES. This dualism usually leads to isolation, both national and from the context of the story of the NES, as the Storyist cannot connect their immersive story with the larger de-immersive story of the NES. Without this skill of isolation, the de-immersive NES elements will infect the Storyists self-constructed immersive world of the nation or character they are playing, completely destroying all immersion for the Storyist, and thus causing them to fail in their playing objectives.

    How then do Storyists ensure that the NES they play in remains alt-historical realistic, allowing them to immerse themselves more fully into the world? The answer depends upon the type of Storyist one is:

    Simulation-Storyists: Storyists who believe that the most effective way to construct an internally consistent world is through the use of rules.

    Pure-Storyists: Storyists who believe that the most effective way to construct an internally consistent world is through group consensus of what should or should not be allowed.

    Arcader-Storyists: Storyists who believe that the most effective way to construct an internally consistent world is through moderator control and fiat.

    Anarchist-Storyist: Storyists who deny the premise that a self-consistent world is needed for immersion and hold that immersion is most effective when the individual player is allowed to do what they want.

    It is the position of this Manifesto that the last category of Storyists, the Anarchist-Storyist, is the most harmful to the Storyist position, as they disrupt the immersion of Storyists from other categories. An Anarchist-Storyist can only work together with other Storyists when they voluntarily submit to an outside restriction (thus violating their own believes on how to best achieve personal immersion), when other Storyists give up their goal of immersion, or when the Anarchist-Storyist is disciplined enough to want to only take actions that are consistent with other Player’s actions and the setting and narrative of the NES as a whole.


    Proposals for Future

    The above Manifesto having explained the goals of a particular Storyist NESer, how would one go about achieving the “ideal” Storyist NES and Player?

    1) Improve One’s Own Knowledge: As the ideal state is accurate and immersive roleplaying, the more one knows about the world of the NES, the more successful the immersive and roleplaying actions of the Storyist will become. As many NESes are set in a historical world, or a world closely patterned after a historical world, historic knowledge in subjects as diverse as culture, dress, customs, economics, warfare, religion, etc. are needed.

    2) Help with the Improved Knowledge of the Community: If the thesis of the centrality of a alt-historic realistic, self-consistent world as optimal conditions for the Storyist, the Storyist will be highly concerned to ensure that their fellow-players are just as knowledgeable as themselves. Sharing information, either as part of the current Guide projects or within the individual NES itself is essential.

    3) Establish a Player-Moderator Covenant for Storyist NESes: As there is a variety, even within the Storyist camp on how NESes should be run, the presence (or absence) of rules, player and moderator freedoms, and other issues, it is recommended the Moderator draft a Player Covenant explaining the expectations and responsibilities of the involved parties. This will help all parties know what happens when two players go to war, or one claims to have discovered flight in 100 BCE, a player becomes “gamey” and tries to exploit the system, or the Moderator suddenly destroys a player’s nation, reducing arguments and tensions within the NES, allowing it to operate smoothly.

    4) Seperation of Immersion and Non-Immersion factors in a NES. Though some Players can maintain immersion even in the presence of non-immersive elements, others cannot. To protect those who cannot, it is recommended that non-immersive factors in a NES be kept separate from the immersive factors, through either through a separate thread, or spoilers around non-immersive material.
     
  2. Disenfrancised

    Disenfrancised Beep Beep

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    Very interesting! However I believe 'Storyist' is a damn silly word invention, especially when Narratologist is a real word and, say Immersionist sounding vastly cooler. ;)
     
  3. Lord_Iggy

    Lord_Iggy Tsesk'ihe

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    Nicely written Strategos! I think this really pins down what I idealize about roleplaying in NESes. By your definition, I think that I am an Arcader-Storyist.
     
  4. Amon Savag

    Amon Savag The Great

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    I do believe the deffinition of arcader-storyist, and simulation-storyist should be traded. Arcade NESes are player driven, with heavy rules (I give you superpowers). Simulationist NESes are those where the mod is arbiter of realism.

    Another thing that should be mentioned is on the orders section. many storyist NESes haven't required orders to be sent in the form of PM. If you are simply roleplaying your vessel, you wouldn't know what you country's foe's orders were in real life, and therefore shouldn't use their orders to your advantage if posted on the forum. And deviation from this takes away from the storyist experience. PMs are a good way of negating this abuse, however, but not required we're all observers of the honor-system.

    I appreciate your work, Strategos.
     
  5. Thlayli

    Thlayli Le Pétit Prince

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    I'm quite pleased with this. Storyists should consult this document for guidance in both moderating and playing.
     
  6. Fuschia

    Fuschia A Little Odd

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    My only dispute with this would be that I do not consider anarchist-storyists to be storyists at all. By your definition, a storyist is someone who seeks to immerse themselves in the world of the NES. An anarchist-storyist is a player who seeks to immerse themselves in the game of the NES, if anything at all; this is clearly evident because they deny the premise that the world is important, and constantly defy the rules and restrictions that the world puts into place. Beyond this, they are certainly not accurately roleplaying their vessel, or even attempting to.

    Not that it's all that important. It serves as a foil and all that good stuff. Very well written.
     
  7. The Strategos

    The Strategos Thanatos

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    While Arcader-Storyist might be your views, as a moderator you seemed to lean towards more of a "Pure-Storyist" or "Anarchist-Storyist" (I am particularly thinking of SteamNES here, and to a lesser extent the first LINES). Forgive me for making you an object lesson here, but that is one of the points of the manifesto, to help people determine their leanings and thus guard against the “trap” of Anarchist-Storyist, which I believe to this point has dominated the Storyist movement.

    Quoting from the aforementioned standard forum definition: "ARCADER (Extrinsic, Subjective) - operational parameters bounded by moderator fiat." Now if you want to reinterpret the meaning of the various schools of NESing philosophy, be my guest, but until your reinterpretation becomes the forum standard, I prefer to use the forum standard. Now if you wanted to argue that what I call “Simulation-Storyists” should be called “Boardgame-Storyists” and that “Simulation-Storyists,” if they exist, should be defined as something else, then you may have the start of a good point on your hands.

    Irrelevant. Per the manifesto, what makes orders, orders are that they are 1) secret and 2) addressed to the mod. It makes no difference whether they are PMed, spoilered, emailed, IMed, mailed, called in, or what have you. That is a personal mod preference as much as deciding the NES setting, and not a core litmus test on what makes a Storyist NES.

    I personally don’t consider anarchist-storyists to be “storyists” either, but that is because with this Manifesto I am making an attempt to co-opt the Storyist “movement.” It is my belief that “classical” or “historical” (as in the history of NESing) “Storyists” are anarchist-storyists, either by choice, or because of a lack of self-reflection on their ideals. This group is the immanently flawed parent of the neo-Storyist “Immersionists” that through this manifesto are attempting to dictate the terms of discussion in order to favorably present themselves in comparison to their historic forbearers. Words such as “immersion,” “accurate,” “self-consistent,” and “alt-historical realistic” are not throw away terms, they are key terms that serve to co-opt the Storyist movement and turn it into a neo-Storyist “Immersionist” movement.
     
  8. Lord_Iggy

    Lord_Iggy Tsesk'ihe

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    Oh, please, don't be afraid to use me as an example. I do know that I have on multiple occasions allowed ridiculous things to happen in my NESes.
     
  9. Thlayli

    Thlayli Le Pétit Prince

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    I wouldn't quite agree with the terminology of "co-opting" the Storyist movement, since that implies turning the core Storyist ideology into something different.

    But refining Storyist doctrine, and improving the manner in which Storyists move toward realism, through immersion in character, is definitely a worthy cause.
     
  10. Reno

    Reno The Studio Ghibli Fanatic

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    Request to have this thread added to the Notice Board sent to the moderators.
     
  11. Fuschia

    Fuschia A Little Odd

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    I'm going to agree with Thlayli here and say co-opt is probably not the best word for what you're doing.

    I would also disagree that the past storyist movement has been mostly anarchist-storyist; while it is true that their are generally few to no rules in some of the older storyist NESes, it is not generally true that they depart from realism and destroy immersion. As an example, I will also put forth SteamNES, which had essentially no rules and little moderator intervention but still kept more or less to internal consistency and allowed for a great deal of immersion.

    Again, not particularly important, as I support what you're doing regardless of the spin either of us puts on storyist "history."
     
  12. Dachs

    Dachs Hero of the Soviet Union

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    lurker's comment: Yo politics.
     
  13. Disenfrancised

    Disenfrancised Beep Beep

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    1) This is one of several 'manifesto' and 'NESing introspection' threads that have been started, why does it get stuck?
    2) It involves rather involved NESing concepts, and therefore isn't particularly suitable for new people, one of the main reasons of sticking something.
    3) If it is that relevent (which I agree it is), you can prevent clutter by putting a link to it in the notice board thread you yourself started!

    (If a mod does unstick the thread, feel free to delete this post ;))
     
  14. Amon Savag

    Amon Savag The Great

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    I agree. This thread should NOT be stickied. If we stickied every manifesto that pops up, we'd have the first page filled with stickies, at some point.
     
  15. Amon Savag

    Amon Savag The Great

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    Thank you mods.
     
  16. Reno

    Reno The Studio Ghibli Fanatic

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    I'm going over other manifesto threads, this being the first one I properly looked over. I'm going to notify the mods on the other threads in due time.

    I've been misunderstood. The point of the Notice Board is to prevent the need for threads to be stickied, instead adding a link to them in the Notice Board under Threads of Importance.

    Due to the Notice Board-thread being closed, I can't edit the opening post myself, therefore I have to bother the moderators every now and again about a new link being added.

    And if one checks the Notice Board, they'll notice a link has been added.
     

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