So, that's a capsule history of the HTHD style. Let me try to bring this ramble home with an attempt to synthesize all this into a workable definition -- which is what I promised you on Tuesday. Okay, we took the scenic route. Cut a new blogger some slack.
High Trust, High Drama is a roleplaying style that embraces narrative and especially deep character play.
High Trust means that there is a heightened openness and collaboration between the players and GM, and among the players themselves. It is the job of everyone at the table to build and tell the story as it unfolds, to help set up dramatic situations, and to participate in the game as both actor and audience. (In the latter case, players must trust that "spotlight time" will be shared equally among the players, and provide their attention and patience when they are not center stage.)
In a High Trust game, there are no in-character secrets between the players. The players are all privy to the secrets of each of the characters.
It does mean that the GM is often given greater latitude to place the characters in precarious, even harrowing situations, with the understanding that the GM will not take advantage of this situation to cripple or deprotagonize the character.
High Drama means that the explicit objective of this style of play is to collectively create stories filled with intense drama and deep character development. Players are expected to "go deep" into emotional territory that is not traditionally associated with roleplaying games.
High Drama also embraces some elements that are associated with other forms of narrative media -- television, theatre, movies, or novels -- in a way that roleplaying games have not traditionally done. Scripted cut-scenes, dramatic lighting, music, props, even "staged" scenes prepared in advance are fair game.
As the blog continues, I will probably talk about some particularly successful applications of HTHD -- the Firefly session that was a series of long, intense interrogation scenes jumps out at me -- but for now I think that gets the basics of the style down for public consumption, debate, and angry invective.
If you have any questions, comments, or requests for further discussion, drop me a line.
Note: We were supposed to record our first episodes of Shake, Rattle and Roleplay tonight, but a flu bug has knocked my wife Megan for a loop. So far I seem to be weathering the storm, apart from a series of not-fun headaches. Hopefully we'll be putting down tracks in the next few days and I'll let you know when the first episodes go live.