[generic] Procedural Language and Action in Games

#1
I have been watching ... well, devouring ... Line of Duty recently and one thing that struck me about the series is the use of procedural language and sound.

You bent bastard! (used over and over again as an insult to goad the police)

Answering only yes or no (Underpinning the dehumanisation of a privately run prison)

(Character X) has the right to be questioned by an officer at least one rank senior (Used in virtually every AC-12 interrogation)

Bleeeeeeeeep (the extreme noise used on the recording machine before an AC-12 interrogation)

This interview is terminated (used at the end of virtually every interview)

It struck me that these sort of phrases could be built into a gaming setting to add some consistency and thematic heft. We see it already - in our Symbaroum game, we have a hand gesture that is used as a 'Blessing of Prios' (akin to making the sign of the Cross), and in any Game of Thrones game your family must always have its 'words'

Do you use procedural language? Does it add to the game?
 

ltd

Initiate
#5
Last year ran a CoC/PISCES game set in the 1970s. I borrowed a lot of terminlogy from the TV series "Callan" and other Cold War era fiction. This one turned up from time to time:

"He/She's in a Red File, that's all you need to know."
 
#9
We had a campaign that gave out a lot of jokey magic items. My character had socks of power ( they changed colour). Another character had a portaloo that was a small box that grew into a usable toilet. We quickly realised that anything we didn't want could be disposed of via the portaloo. Whenever a rubbish item was discovered we all looked around and said "PORTALOO".
 
#11
Actually Remi has reminded me that the most obvious example of this is, of course, Star Trek. So many phrases baked into the setting that create the feel of that setting when they are scattered into a game. Excellent example
I though I didn't have anything to contribute to this discussion but now I realise that at the top of most IP-based scenario I intend to run, I write down the key phrases for the setting to remind me to use them. Eg:

Neutron Blasters
force Wall
deflectors
Standard by 12
"Down and safe"
 
#12
I’ve never had a chance to play Polaris but the ideas in it are intriguing and the formality seems to make a lot of sense.

We ritualise a lot of play in RPGs anyway (“roll initiative”, or even the shift in some games when open discussion pauses to get minis out and draw a map. Experimenting with that sort of structure in other less-combat-focused parts of a game would be very interesting.

Then there’s Dying Earth/Skulduggery which, I think, links rewards to catchphrases or other key phrases for each character.
 
#13
I’m not sure how @Paul R ’s portaloo was related to th thread, but I totally would want to be in that game!

For the rest I already steer clear of TV and movie based games from previous experience of zealous fans’ needs to stick to the show’s dictates religiously. I discovered that while, for example, I feel I’m a big Firefly fan having watched it maybe half a dozen times, I still don’t seem to have the eidetic memory for characters and scenes others have.

So related to that I’d probably steer clear of a game that required memorisation of a series of catchphrases, and I’d wonder whether falling back on them might take some of the creativity from the game.
 
#14
So related to that I’d probably steer clear of a game that required memorisation of a series of catchphrases, and I’d wonder whether falling back on them might take some of the creativity from the game.
I don't think it needs to be memorisation of a long list of things. These things should come naturally and obviously shouldn't be something that detracts from your enjoyment at the table. They can be quite innocuous really.

Example: Two characters leave each other on a dangerous mission in a SF game. One says to the other..."Good luck out there." - That's good. In a Star Wars game however, one says to the other ... "May the Force be with you." and suddenly, BOOM! You're playing Star Wars. Proper.

Example: You are playing the Captain in a Star Trek game and you are off on an away mission. What do you say when you leave the bridge? "Mister whoever, you have the Conn". And when you are told there is a communication coming in? "On Screen". And when the ship is hit in combat? "Damage Report!". The characters have their own catchphrases too. Compare Picard's 'Make it so!" to Pike's 'Hit it!'

Example: Speaking of catchphrases, what about Dr Who?! "Brilliant!" vs "Geronimo" vs "Alons y!"

Example: In our Symbaroum game, every time Tom meets someone who engages with him as a priest, he greets them with 'Blessings of Prios upon you' and touches three fingers to his forehead. As the NPC, I touch three fingers to mine. Brother Iago, his character, feels more like a pious cleric than any that I have seen before, even the ones I have tried to portray.

Yes, I can attest that it can be a little annoying sometimes. I was playing in a Star Wars based game recently (iirc) and I got my Photon and Proton torpedos mixed up and was constantly being corrected. That sort of stuff is a little vexing and isn't what I'm talking about really.

It's more the natural stuff that underpins the setting you create. I guess the point of this post is to suggest that whilst the technique can be used for genre emulation, it really shines when it is used to reinforce character of your own in a campaign game.
 
#15
I’m not sure how @Paul R ’s portaloo was related to th thread, but I totally would want to be in that game!

For the rest I already steer clear of TV and movie based games from previous experience of zealous fans’ needs to stick to the show’s dictates religiously. I discovered that while, for example, I feel I’m a big Firefly fan having watched it maybe half a dozen times, I still don’t seem to have the eidetic memory for characters and scenes others have.

So related to that I’d probably steer clear of a game that required memorisation of a series of catchphrases, and I’d wonder whether falling back on them might take some of the creativity from the game.
I had the worst possible case of non familiarity. I got roped in to run a game at a library for 12-16 year olds. I was told with about 2 weeks notice it was to be Harry Potter themed. I have not read the books or seen all of the films. Hmm. I set the game in an inner city comprehensive that teaches magic, not the posh lads school. Used modern (not Latin) language. Just before the game I was told they changed the ages and I had 5-13. The game went great, nicked some gm ideas from a game I'd been in at continuum and they worked well. I even was told by a dad that this was the first time his daughter had engaged with people outside of her family as she is too shy. My mate ran a game on the next table and got crucified. He had about a dozen questions thrown at him about the books and as he had gone down the more traditional hog warts route he could not fudge them as I had. I came out smiling, he looked like he had been savaged by dire wolves.
 
#16
I was told with about 2 weeks notice it was to be Harry Potter themed. I have not read the books or seen all of the films. Hmm. I set the game in an inner city comprehensive that teaches magic, not the posh lads school. Used modern (not Latin) language. Just before the game I was told they changed the ages and I had 5-13. The game went great, nicked some gm ideas from a game I'd been in at continuum and they worked well.
Whenever I'm doing my one hour demos and am either brought or acquire some "Potterheads" I simply reskin one of my Steampunk adventures* to take place in "Steamworts" university where children who have scientific flair are sent to built their esoteric devices. It always seems to go down well. In general reskinning a good and proven scenario might be better than trying to create something from scratch in a strange world. A good story is a good story, eh?

* the one with dinosaurs, rather than the one with vivisection.
 

Maddz

Rune Priest
#17
Have you ever played Polaris: Chivalric Tragedy at Utmost North? (Not to be confused with many other RPGs called Polaris)

The mechanics of that game use ritual phrases to begin and end the story of each session, to trigger conflicts and also to negotiate the outcome of a conflict. There are a number of other storygames that codify words or phrases as actual mechanics.
I’ve played Polaris, and I found it too formalised. Nice idea, but too restrictive in execution for my tastes.

Phraseology that adds to the flavour of the setting is fine; I can get totally into that (Princess Leia in Carry On Up The Empire - ‘Ooh Mr Vader, you can’t put that in there’, an ogre chef in a Lunar army unit complaining that the rations didn’t have enough body in them). However, formulaic language to structure gameplay is too restrictive IMO.
 
#18
Phraseology that adds to the flavour of the setting is fine; I can get totally into that (Princess Leia in Carry On Up The Empire - ‘Ooh Mr Vader, you can’t put that in there’, an ogre chef in a Lunar army unit complaining that the rations didn’t have enough body in them). However, formulaic language to structure gameplay is too restrictive IMO.
I think "phraseology that adds to the flavour of the setting" is what the OP was referring to, rather than "formulaic language to structure gameplay". I for one and totally pro the former ("Down and Safe") and find myself being taken out of a story by the latter.

I can't describe how much my enjoyment of and engagement with one of the major and most popular multi-genre systems - one which I should, on paper, love - has been spoilt by the single three letter word "tag".
 
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