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Mark Hitting

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As I mentioned in my previous post on the new True Grit, the texts of the current Coen brothers version and its 1969 predecessor overlap to a surprising degree. Both lift extensive passages of Charles Portis’ stylized, rhythmic dialogue. These are sometimes placed differently. The tone of the two films is completely different. But the same text underlies both films.

More theoretically-minded roleplayers tend to worry about maintaining player freedom to direct the narrative. This might be reflected in a fear of railroading, or a move toward indie-style rules sets that deemphasize or entirely remove the GM.

What would a play experience look like if a game turned this concern on its head? This hypothetical rules set might provide you with a text which the participants are permitted to interpret, adjust and adapt, but must ultimately adhere to. The broad outline of the narrative is taken from both player and GM; it is predetermined and known to them in advance. The play experience becomes the process of filling in the gaps, and either working together or contesting to establish tone, meaning, and the manner in which the narrative puzzle is assembled.

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