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Author Topic: Bladeslingers  (Read 9262 times)
Jake Norwood
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« on: July 26, 2002, 08:22:23 PM »

Most of you have read (or should have read) Ron Edward's Review of TROS here at the forge (www.indie-rpgs.com/reviews/). In it he refers to the seemingly out-of-place role of the Bladeslinger. Well, I want to talk about bladeslingers, but first I want to see what you all know/think you know, and what we need to know, so that we see how they are integral to Weyrth and the TROS mythos as I understand it, and not as out-of-place as I understand that they can seem.

Let the games begin.

Jake
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"Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing." -R.E. Howard The Tower of the Elephant
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Lance D. Allen
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« Reply #1 on: July 27, 2002, 12:29:24 AM »

I'm not sure how historically accurate the tales were, but there have always been stories of knights-errant and traveling warriors throughout the middle ages. Most often, in the romantic period, these were nobles in disguise, but I believe there were at least a few tales of champions of the common folk. As The Riddle of Steel and Weyrth are a fantasy setting, I think that the mythos should be incorporated more strongly than reality. Reality might be fun to play if done correctly, but it's not my cup of tea, personally. I think Bladeslingers match much of the myth and bring them to life in the Weyrth setting.
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~Lance Allen
Wolves Den Publishing
Eternally Incipient Publisher of Mage Blade, ReCoil and Rats in the Walls
Blake Hutchins
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« Reply #2 on: July 27, 2002, 09:28:49 AM »

I haven't read TROS, not having access to a copy, but the term "bladeslinger" conjures up a combination of Old West gunslinger, man-with-no-name, duelist imagery, FWIW.  An obvious extrapolation, but I'd ask - again in ignorance of any nuances present in the text - what it is about "bladeslinger" that differs from "knight errant" or "wandering mercenary."  Then I'd look at how such a critter fits into the larger look and feel of Weyrth.

Best,

Blake
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Jake Norwood
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« Reply #3 on: July 27, 2002, 11:55:34 AM »

Actually, Blake, you're right on. The word Bladeslinger is taken from the old west gunslinger. Instead of a mercenary, a Bladeslinger is a wandering swordsman seeking the Riddle of Steel, a form of swordsman's enlightenment. There are many approaches to this, of course, but knight errants and others have different motives (since that's the differences in all things...motive).

Jake
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"Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing." -R.E. Howard The Tower of the Elephant
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Bob Richter
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« Reply #4 on: July 28, 2002, 12:12:55 AM »

Quote from: Jake Norwood
Actually, Blake, you're right on. The word Bladeslinger is taken from the old west gunslinger. Instead of a mercenary, a Bladeslinger is a wandering swordsman seeking the Riddle of Steel, a form of swordsman's enlightenment. There are many approaches to this, of course, but knight errants and others have different motives (since that's the differences in all things...motive).

Jake


So, are the terms "Bladeslinger" and "Riddle-Seeker" synonymous?

What exactly IS the Riddle of Steel, and how MIGHT one go about seeking it?
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Lance D. Allen
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« Reply #5 on: July 28, 2002, 02:56:49 AM »

Quote
So, are the terms "Bladeslinger" and "Riddle-Seeker" synonymous?


I'd say no. The Riddle of Steel is much more than simply enlightenment for swordsmen. Sorcerers, kings, peasants, men and women of all stations can seek the Riddle, and never pick up a blade. I think Jake was simply summarizing for one who does not have access to the book right now.

Quote

What exactly IS the Riddle of Steel, and how MIGHT one go about seeking it?


It is invincibility--to strike with all, and to be struck by none.

It is understanding--to ask questions, and to know the answers.

It is peace--to walk without fear, to know that the end is in your hands.

It is skill--to feel the elegance found in violence, and to know the beauty found in stillness.

It is Spirit--to gaze into the face of your god, and to know him before he comes for you.

What is the Riddle of Steel? Where is it found?

That is the question with no answer.

...I'm sure that's not what you wanted, Bob.. But honestly, that's your answer. Only those who have achieved the Riddle know it's secret, and I think that they are perhaps not telling.
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~Lance Allen
Wolves Den Publishing
Eternally Incipient Publisher of Mage Blade, ReCoil and Rats in the Walls
Rattlehead
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« Reply #6 on: July 28, 2002, 04:33:51 AM »

Ok, keep in mind that I've not had the opportunity to actually play in an ongoing TROS game. In fact, I've not really sat down and played a "session".

I know that bladeslingers and the Riddle feature prominently in the book, but when I read it, they didn't really appeal to me. You know how when you're reading through a roleplaying game book you start to get all sorts of ideas for an adventure, or even an entire campaign? Well, I got them from reading TROS, but none of them involved bladeslingers, or even Riddle-Seeking at all. Now, I'm not saying that I don't like the Riddle-Seeking aspect of the game, I'm just saying that it didn't particularly appeal to me. I wouldn't be interested in playing a Riddle-Seeking character - at least, I'm not for now.....

I imagine that the first TROS campaign that I run will not involve the Riddle at all, unless someone plays a character for whom The Riddle and it's search are important. Like I said, it's not that I don't like these elements, but I feel that the world of Wyerth stands on it's own. I get the impression from your post Jake, that The Riddle and bladeslingers are supposed to be central to the game world and that they are the key flavor element. But this isn't the feeling I got from reading the book. I felt they were more like Knights of Solamnia or Wizards of High Sorcery in the Dragonlance campaign setting. That's a bad example. I don't mean that they were "character classes" - obviously, The Riddle itself can't be. But what I mean is that bladeslingers and The Riddle are a part of the game world, but not of particular interest to me at this time. For example, I played a LOT of Dragonlance campaigns, but they didn't always revolve around Solamnic Knights or Wizards of High Sorcery. Sometimes these things were a part of the story, but often they were just a part of the game world that had no impact on our campaign.

So, to sum up... I like bladeslingers, and I don't feel that they are out of place in TROS. I like the Riddle-Seeking element. I just don't plan to use them immediately. I think they are great "flavor items" in the world, but I don't feel that they are something that you have to use in a TROS campaign. If they were removed from the game I don't feel that it would have a major impact. But, just like anything that adds flavor to a game world (even if you don't use it), more is usually better! :-D

The Riddle is one of many things that makes TROS unique. But, in my opinion, it's not critical to the success of a campaign to involve it. It's just another thing that makes TROS a great game.

I know I've rambled quite a bit, but I hope I've let you know what you wanted to know, Jake.
Regards,
    Brandon
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Grooby!
Sneaky Git
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« Reply #7 on: July 28, 2002, 09:43:04 AM »

Bladeslingers.

The Riddle of Steel.

As I see it, they are two different concepts, but related ones at that.  I agree with Wolfen.. "The Riddle" is much more than enlightenment for swordsmen/women.  Rather, it is one Path.. and a path trod by many bladeslingers.  Perhaps, until you understand it, the concept of "the Riddle" is best understood in terms of the concrete (steel = sword), rather than the abstract.  I'm not certain, though.

Honestly, every time I attempt to wrap my brain around the concept of bladeslingers, and the accompanying Riddle, I keep coming back to what happened to the samurai after Sekigahara.. when the Tokugawa victory ended the decades-long period of civil strife in Japan.  No wars = no way for samurai to do that what they had always done.  As a result, you saw a dramatic increase in the number of wandering swordsmen who would seek one another out.. as a way of proving their craft, skill, timing, spirit, etc.

Miyamoto Musashi therefore, as I see it, becomes the prototypical bladeslinger/riddlemaster.  Early life as a bladeslinger (many duels), combined with years of spiritual exploration/discovery.. and finally his discovery of the meaning of the Riddle.. and his attempts to pass his knowledge down (Gorin No Sho) in a healthy mixture of the pragmatic and the philosophical.

That, at least, is how I see it.  Any comments?
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Molon labe.
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- Leonidas of Sparta, in response to Xerxes' demand that the Spartans lay down their arms.
Jake Norwood
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« Reply #8 on: July 28, 2002, 09:58:04 AM »

Musashi is definitely a IRL model of a bladeslinger. The TROS bladeslinger comes largely from reading Musashi watching Kurosawa movies, especially Yojimbo, Sanjuro, and Sword of Doom. It is a very "Clint Eastwood Western" sort of thing. I see what Brandon is saying about non-centrality, and he's right. See, bladeslingers are part of Weyrth, but they *seem* to be outsiders. TROS is not Weyrth...Weyrth is a separate part for those that want it...thus the difficulty in working something like Bladeslingers more globally into the game--they're part of setting, and TROS setting is flexible, as TROS is a system first.

No, bladeslinger's aren't a part of every game--or most, I've learned--but there's a reason, I think.

They're really hard to play.

It requires a player of immense skill, IMO, to make a Bladeslinger work in the context of inter-personal relationships, because players and GMs have a hard time getting away from the "Bladeslinger is a loner that needs no one nor no thing but his sword," which is, of course, the great lie. They are people, and though they may move from place to place and seem unnatached, they move *because* of relationships and, basically, SAs. Take a look at Clinton Nixon's excellent Paladin...it's full of Bladeslingers. Really. Check it out and things will change, I think. Who are these guys? Why do they seek the Riddle as their only(???) meaning in life?

As with the game, there's a lot more depth than people initially see. Check out the current TROS thread at RPG.net to see what I mean.

Jake
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Brian Leybourne
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« Reply #9 on: July 28, 2002, 01:08:05 PM »

I think you guys are all reading too much into "riddle seeker". Anyone can be a riddle seeker, and they don't have to be a knight to do so. Hell, CONAN was a riddle seeker.

A bladeslinger? Well, that's something else again.

Brian.
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Brian Leybourne
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RPG Books: Of Beasts and Men, The Flower of Battle, The TROS Companion
Brian Leybourne
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« Reply #10 on: July 28, 2002, 01:09:03 PM »

Quote from: Jake Norwood
As with the game, there's a lot more depth than people initially see. Check out the current TROS thread at RPG.net to see what I mean.


Damn it, did they start that thread up again? Jeez, I thought it had died, and have not checked it for a long time.

Sigh.

Brian.
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Brian Leybourne
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RPG Books: Of Beasts and Men, The Flower of Battle, The TROS Companion
Jake Norwood
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« Reply #11 on: July 28, 2002, 01:12:00 PM »

Quote from: BrianL

Damn it, did they start that thread up again? Jeez, I thought it had died, and have not checked it for a long time.

Sigh.

Brian.


Nah, it's a new thread. Not all bad, either. Check it out.

Jake
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"Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing." -R.E. Howard The Tower of the Elephant
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Bob Richter
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« Reply #12 on: July 28, 2002, 04:36:56 PM »

Quote from: Wolfen
Quote

What exactly IS the Riddle of Steel, and how MIGHT one go about seeking it?


It is invincibility--to strike with all, and to be struck by none.

It is understanding--to ask questions, and to know the answers.

It is peace--to walk without fear, to know that the end is in your hands.

It is skill--to feel the elegance found in violence, and to know the beauty found in stillness.

It is Spirit--to gaze into the face of your god, and to know him before he comes for you.

What is the Riddle of Steel? Where is it found?

That is the question with no answer.

...I'm sure that's not what you wanted, Bob.. But honestly, that's your answer. Only those who have achieved the Riddle know it's secret, and I think that they are perhaps not telling.


That's DEFINATELY not what I wanted. If what I wanted was in the book, I think I might not have asked the question.

I didn't ask where it was, but how to seek it.

I asked WHAT IT WAS, not WHAT IT DID.

You've not answered either question, and thus not helped me at all.

These are the two things that keep me from either playing or Seneschaling for a Riddle-Seeker, I have NO IDEA how to handle it.
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Brian Leybourne
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« Reply #13 on: July 28, 2002, 05:51:36 PM »

Quote from: Bob Richter

What exactly IS the Riddle of Steel, and how MIGHT one go about seeking it?

That's DEFINATELY not what I wanted. If what I wanted was in the book, I think I might not have asked the question.

I didn't ask where it was, but how to seek it.

I asked WHAT IT WAS, not WHAT IT DID.

You've not answered either question, and thus not helped me at all.

These are the two things that keep me from either playing or Seneschaling for a Riddle-Seeker, I have NO IDEA how to handle it.


That's kind of the point though Bob - the riddle is different for everyone. Just understanding the question "what is the riddle of steel" is as hard as being able to answer it. For some people, the riddle may be a philosophy (like eastern shaolinism perhaps). For others, it may be combat prowess such that no blade can ever touch you. For others...

The point I'm getting at is that "what it is" isn't a question we can answer for *your* game any more than we can answer "what it does" for your game. That's something you'll have to work out for yourself, or you can do what I do and let the players work it out, pick the coolest thing they come up with, and then pretend it was what you had planned all along and look like a genius. :-)

Brian.
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Brian Leybourne
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Lance D. Allen
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« Reply #14 on: July 28, 2002, 06:11:27 PM »

Alright, I'll see if I can actually answer in a way you might find helpful, Bob..

The Riddle.. gah. It's almost the same thing as Zen, oneness with all. The ability to understand someone because you are one with them, to know what they shall do because you are them, and know their thoughts... Or something like that.

Achieving the Riddle is like total enlightenment. It IS invincibility. To know what someone will do, and how to counteract it is to be immune. It IS understanding, for being one with all is to know all.

How would one go about seeking it? There's no right way except the one that works. Martial artists seek it in mastery over their bodies. Scholars seek it in the pursuit of pure knowledge. Logicians seek it through logic, to understand anything by knowing about the laws which underlie it. Bladeslingers seek it in much the same way as the martial artist, in mastery of theirselves, their swords, and their opponents.

How would I play a Riddle-Seeker? Detached, analytical. They care about things, sure; but they attempt to glean understanding from everything, even their own pain, misery and loss.

How would I Seneschal for a Riddle Seeker? Likely, I'd never allow them to acchieve it, unless it were the campaigns ending, and I wouldn't ever tell them they'd acchieved it; I'd let them tell me. Honestly, though.. I don't think a character can acchieve it without the player attaining a certain level of enlightenment as well. It's one of those concepts which is honestly bigger than the game which tries to contain it.
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~Lance Allen
Wolves Den Publishing
Eternally Incipient Publisher of Mage Blade, ReCoil and Rats in the Walls
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