Last time I've covered a Princess Tutu episode, it was a really early one. Since then, I began to question my remark that this series is a great GMing guide, but the ending of season one showed me otherwise. In episode 11, which I'll cover today, we are presented near the end with a remarkable scene. The annoying Drosselmeyer shows us that he does understand stories, when he reminds each character of his or her role in the unveiling one.
Now, this is an interesting case, because each character in the series plays a role in the story. To a certain respect, it is just like an RPG: each player is assigned a role to fill in the story that is being created (this is, again, a topic for another post). Our 4 main characters are our players, and Drosselmeyer is our GM.
This scene asks about roles. What roles does each side fill in the game? What is the players' role? What is their GM's role? To a certain respect, after almost 11 episodes, we are presented with the Social Contract of the "game". Each player got a role to fill, assigned to him or her by the GM, and this is their job. As long as they fill it, though, Drosselmeyer doesn't intervene. But when they do leave the role behind, Drosselmeyer reminds them and guides them back to their role.
This is one type of a Social Contract that can be made. We can also "sign" a contract that gives the GM an even greater role in the shaping of the game, a kind of game in which the players are only there for the ride. Or we can go the other route, to a game without a real GM, a game in which the players guide the game themselves. It can also, unsurprisingly, be somewhere in the middle.
But the Social Contract is only a part of a greater contract, the one called the Group Contract, which also covers such things as rule-systems and the like. It answers questions such as "how do we choose a rule-system?" "How closely do we follow the rules presented in the rules-system?" and so on.
Both of these concepts are there to help us play better games. They do it by giving us the tools to describe in detail the roles, expectations and responsibilities of each participating party.