Wednesday, 24 August 2011

Who framed Conan le Barbare?

I found this and had a blast. I think it's worth a look for several reasons, not least given the last post and feelings about Conan. It gave me an idea too. Framing is common in cinema and literature, but less so in gaming so I've put some suggestions lower down.

Framing then. It could be used to set up a stand-alone roleplaying session or wargame, just to play with the usual format or content, or could be part of a less linear campaign, with the outcome affecting the reality doing the framing. Here's a list of possible forms.

  1. dream - the obvious one; you could make the game rulebendingly weird, or add references to the framing reality, maybe as symbols, or foreshadowing events
  2. fantasy - this is more interesting; if it's a simple fantasy of superiority, maybe the fantasising character or a faction gets a reroll per turn, or the GM fudges
  3. flashback - another obvious one, also suitable for those references to the world outside the frame and maybe providing information, although the individual experiencing the flashback would presumably have to survive it; then again, it could be more the Cold Lazarus kind, or the mind could have been uploaded
  4. psychoanalysis - this could be interesting, and could be used to play up an aspect of the game or a character's life, while the free association idea could see the action jumping around, in a wargame maybe as mini scenarios or multiple tables; re the aspect, as a contrast to the fantasy, the game could focus on a failure, or comedy of errors, with the character being forced to reroll, although the need for survival might suit a game less about danger and more about status say 
  5. regression - this might work well later in a campaign, to develop a character by revealing early life, maybe a repressed memory, or even a past incarnation...
  6. cross examination - this could work on the subjectivity of truth, by having each player able to rewind or blow-up a detail of the action to show how it really was
  7. interview - it might be best to understand this for practical purposes as some blend of a cross examination, fantasy and psychoanalysis, depending on the self-importance of the subject and the nature of the interviewee and audience
  8. reality media - if this is more The Truman Show, the NPCs or other players could be in on it, actively working with the GM, or able to manipulate events in a wargame (the fundamentals deck could work for this); if it's a Big Brother-style show, the other characters or individual squads in the force could be playing to the audience, represented by something as simple as testing a score to keep order in a wargame, or a set of criteria to meet to make it big in the framing world

      But if all of that seems just too serious, well then I do have to ask: "What is best in life?"



      Tim Knight said...

      I posited the idea of a framing structure in my recent brainstorm about adopting the "How I Met Your Mother" story structure for RPGs -

      Trey said...

      I think it could be used in games. Given the way most games work I'm not sure what it would add. Maybe some indie/story-type games, perhaps.

      Porky said...

      @ Sir Timothy of Kent - Stands to reason I wouldn't be the first, but I was half imagining I'd get the scoop within a reasonably large space of time - now I'm interested now in how often this might be coming up... And I'd say 'great minds', but sadly I may not be up to the standard you're setting. I'll be over in a moment to take a look.

      Here's that address as a quick link.

      @ Trey - It's still too early for me to decide. I'd like to sit quietly and ponder what could be done with it, and I have a sense some of the applications will depend very much on setting or campaign, or more likely particular group. The range of options in the list gives some variety, and it could be a good way of adding more gonzo to offbeat styles, more gravity in wargaming for the guys with an interest in soldier career, or more psychological depth for the more character-oriented. It triggers the associations I have with time travel in games, but dealing with perception it seems to have even more scope. A September of Short Adventures could be one place to weave it in. It's a little close now, but I'll have a think.

      Telecanter said...

      I read somewhere, think it was ars ludi, about a DM letting players take on roles in a pre-session scene. If an event happened in a lab, let the players be the poor shmucks it happened to. It seemed a cool way to introduce them to what happened, be invested, without taking agency from their own characters. Not exactly a frame but I'd be interested to try it. I'm game to break the 4th wall. Thanks for the post.

      Porky said...

      That does sound like a lot of fun, and certainly good for variety. It has spin-off potential too, not least for later meetings. For the minus level character standard-raising idea it's useful to have a cast of secondary characters to hand, and experience of actually playing them, even briefly, would help the continuity.