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Narrativist refers to decisions based on what would best further a dramatic story or address a central theme. This terminology often confuses those who have not read the articles on which the model is based, and thus assume that any game in which mechanics act directly on story is narrativist. Some critics suggest that the term "themist" might be more descriptive, given that addressing a thematic issue is a necessary condition for labeling a creative agenda as "narrativist"; however, this then leads to the question of how to categorize games in which mechanics act directly on story and story constitutes the main priority of the creative agenda that do not prioritize theme.

To resolve combat, a narrativist approach might be to consider the thematic implications of the fight, why the fight is important to the characters involved in it (beyond the obvious risk of harm), and what the story would look like if one side or the other won out. All of these considerations may be done aloud, mediated by dice, or simply resolved by GM discretion.

As of 2006, many indie role-playing games are designed as Narrativist games, such as Dogs in the Vineyard or Sorcerer

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