What does it mean to say yes?

You might be aware of the phrase “say yes”. It was brought to wider roleplaying consciousness by Vincent Baker in Dogs in the Vineyard (DitV) back in 2004. I’ve heard some misinterpretations about saying yes. And note: this post is not specific or maybe even applicable to DitV.

Saying yes does not mean complying to everything the (other) players want. I’m also unsure whether it fits every game out there.

But here’s an example of saying yes in action.

At Ropecon I got the chance to play with Jason Morningstar and Steve Segedy, friendly and humble gentlemen both. Jason’s character clearly showed romantic interest to mine, but he couldn’t express it. My character, on the other hand, was infatuated with someone else.By the wrong interpretation (yes, wrong) of “saying yes” I should’ve said yes to Jason’s approaches and forgotten about who my character was. But that’s not what it means.

“Saying yes” means recognizing Jason’s offer as a player. What his action was a clear offer to me and the game: “Here’s what my character is and does! Please do something cool with it!” It was not “please do what my character asked you to do.” (Although Jason might have wished that as well.)

Roleplaying my character falling in love would’ve robbed the scene of credibility. Turning him down straightforwardly might have worked, but I felt it wouldn’t have been satisfying.

What I did was that I started talking about my own infatuation with the third character. That is, I turned down Jason’s explicit offer (“PLEASE LOVE ME!”), but I incorporated the story element that he offered (“My guy loves yours very much but can’t say it out loud!”) in a dramatically satisfying way. It made my character look like a dork and Jason’s character gathered the sympathies.

Saying yes is a skill. I don’t know how good I’m at it in general. But I think this serves as an adequate example of its nuances.

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