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46709 Posts in 5588 Topics by 13297 Members Latest Member: - Shane786 Most online today: 39 - most online ever: 429 (November 03, 2007, 04:35:43 AM)
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Author Topic: [In a Wicked Age] Setting and events...  (Read 3597 times)
Landon Darkwood
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« on: January 12, 2008, 02:30:27 PM »

Vincent, I noticed that the current draft of IAWA sort of leaves out or glosses over all the discussion about setting elements that was in your 'Creating Situation: a practical example' blog post.

Why?
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lumpley
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« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2008, 02:39:37 PM »

It didn't occur to me to include it. I figure that the game's rules do all that work.

Do you wish I had?

-Vincent
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John Harper
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« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2008, 03:41:48 PM »

I do.

The Wicked book is a great guide to how to play the game. But that essay is a wonderfully lucid explanation of why you might want to play a game like Wicked in the first place. The book is so opaque on that point, it's not very useful as a book I can hand to a friend and expect them to go charging off to play on their own.

The essay shows the action of play from start to finish, and is great inspirational material. You read it, and you want to do that yourself. The Wicked book gives you the tools to do it, but I don't think it gives you the inspirational piece to create the desire for it. The book asks you to follow its directions without much of an indication of why it's going to be fun to do so.

That's a problem for certain audiences, some of which you probably aren't writing for. But that's my gut feeling after a first read-through. The book will be a hard sell to some of the people who I know will enjoy it most. For them, I'll send a link to the essay along with the book.
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Landon Darkwood
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« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2008, 06:13:24 PM »

It didn't occur to me to include it. I figure that the game's rules do all that work.

Do you wish I had?

Yes, but maybe not to the extent that John's suggesting. Just an added step about teasing out places or groups or whatever - setting constructs, while you're teasing out characters, and then coming back to that when you talk about how to develop conflicts of interest and how/where to set scenes. I think the only reason it stuck out to me as an omission is because of how everything else is so right there on the page, in your face.
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Nathaniel
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« Reply #4 on: January 13, 2008, 08:21:34 PM »

For reference:

http://www.lumpley.com/comment.php?entry=183

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I'm not designing a game.  Play is the thing for me.
Nathaniel
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« Reply #5 on: January 14, 2008, 11:23:23 AM »

I read the blog post, the comments and the rules of IaWA again after sitting with it for a while.  I have a question for the original poster or anyone else who wants to answer it.

What exactly, from that blog post do you wish was in the rules?  What are the most important points from "all the discussion about setting elements" that you wish were in the rules?  They're not jumping out at me as I read the blog post, and I'd hate to go into playing the game missing something key.
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Landon Darkwood
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« Reply #6 on: January 14, 2008, 04:28:31 PM »

Mainly, the deliberate step of teasing out small-scale setting elements, and using them very specifically as a means of helping create the dynamics. The setting elements in the original article help determine a sort of positioning among the participants, a starting point that can immediately feed into scenes. One of them, the magician-monks' order, is actually given best interests like a character in the final breakdown.
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lumpley
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« Reply #7 on: January 15, 2008, 07:49:08 AM »

Landon, cool, I get you.

-Vincent
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Landon Darkwood
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« Reply #8 on: January 15, 2008, 02:30:03 PM »

Thanks.

Just to be clear, 'cause I know the Internet is bad for this stuff, I didn't ask the question with the intent to criticize. It was more like a "hey, I wonder what happened here" question - like, I assumed that something happened in playtest that might have shown they didn't need as much emphasis, like maybe paying too much attention to setting elements muddled up the pre-game too much and whatnot, or turned out not to be as important as one might think, etc.

I'm still extremely stoked about playing it and hope to do so soon. Thanks again.
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lumpley
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« Reply #9 on: January 15, 2008, 06:47:08 PM »

It's cool, none taken.

It turned out in play that you make setting like crazy, just by the "say what's obvious, plus a detail" rule. The setting elements the oracle provides sometimes come into play and sometimes don't, almost 50-50, but either way you make setting like crazy, so I didn't sweat it.

John, I'm not ignoring you. Your disappointment is a different, bigger, maybe harder one for me; I can't be like, "oh it turned out it didn't matter much in play" to yours. I'm just thinking about it.

-Vincent
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John Harper
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« Reply #10 on: January 16, 2008, 01:29:57 AM »

Disappointment is too strong a word. I wouldn't say I found anything about Wicked disappointing. I have nothing but love for this little jewel of a game, my friend. I want you to know that.

My post sounds pretty critical because I spend all day doing art direction and sometimes I can't turn that part of me off. You didn't ask for criticism, but I just waded on in. When you asked the question about that essay, it struck something for me. Like, yeah... there was something in there that isn't in the book now. I'm curious to hear what you think.
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DainXB
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« Reply #11 on: January 16, 2008, 03:16:51 AM »

For the sake of adding yet another point of view: 

I've been anxious for IAWA to come out since I first read a link on Mighty Atom talking about 'making Oracle entries' for fun, and followed the trail of breadcrumbs back to the Art, Grace & Guts wiki.  I tracked down Actual Plays of playtest sessions, and so on, but I never ran across the essay in question, for some reason.  (I have no explanation for that.  I just missed it I guess. :( )

Therefore, I read the book the morning of the 12th without knowing about the essay; and the book, for me at least, explains not only how to do this thing, but why this thing is ultimately so cool.  So the book is successful as a text, have no fear on that score.

Then, reading this thread, I followed the link above and read the essay.  The one thing that the essay has that really elaborates beyond what can be understood from the book is the difference between 'static' and 'dynamic' situations.  It explains the contrast, and names the concepts.  IAWA gives you 'dynamic', but never names it, or contrasts that with it's alternative.  Quoting:  "At the end, you should have a situation not easily untangled and about to to turn really bad."  That's 'dynamic' defined, but not named -- and not contrasted with 'static' to show why 'static' doesn't make for a good game. 

The essay gives me names for the concepts, so that I can discuss them more easily, instead of waving my hands in the air and saying "Doing it this way makes it work every time, doing it some other way may not, and I'm not sure why."  Armed with those terms, I can talk to other gamers about why IAWA works, and why it gives you cool situations.

That naming and contrast is something that I could wistfully wish was in the IAWA book...



Now I'm going to go off on a tangent.  This is not intended as a threadjack, but it's something that just hit me:  Maybe my inability to at first put my finger on what made 'static situation' and 'dynamic situation' different in the first place is symptomatic of the 'brain damage' Ron Edwards talks about. (I hate the term; because it's not organic damage -- but I recognize the situation:  It's a learned habit of thinking uncritically about certain things.)  As a 30-year veteran Sim GM, struggling toward Nar, I find myself habitually doing things that I see all the splat-book authors doing:  Creating a wonderful, detailed, flavorful setting -- and making damned sure that it's 'static' -- because making it 'static' makes it resilient enough that the actions of the PCs can't completely topple all my towers and wreck the beauty of my creation.  (Ranting now:  Even the metaplot-driven setting-books are 'static' because the 'dynamism' of the metaplot moves at the glacial rate of the publishing house.)

Judd, in 'Dictionary of Mu', said "Rock this setting through your play." and "Kick this setting in the teeth."  Scott Knipe said of 'Charnel Gods', "Charnel Gods takes an unusual approach to it's setting.  It wants you to destroy it."  Those were eye-opening statements to me when I read them, but they didn't tell me how to do it.  Just giving up my sense of 'ownership' of my created settings and empowering PC authorship wasn't enough. 

Now that I have a word for what I see, I can talk about it:  'Mu', especially, is a dynamic situation:  Those example PCs have interests that run counter to one another and counter to the interests of their own demons.  Marr'd is about to tear itself apart, and we are going along for the ride.  IAWA gives that kind of dynamic situation every time, and it does so in a step-by-step method that lets me see how the magic is being done.       

Some people just get this concept innately, I guess.  Others (like me) have to be taught.  Thank you, Vincent, for being a great teacher.

--
DainXB
Dain Lybarger 


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lumpley
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« Reply #12 on: January 16, 2008, 10:02:29 AM »

Oh, John, none taken either. It's cool.

I think it was Joshua BishopRoby who said it about Poison'd, something like "the game just presents these rules for you to follow, providing no reason why you would want to. You have to take it on faith and Vincent's pretty cocksure to expect you to." (I'm reading "cocksure" in, he was diplomatic.)

Dogs in the Vineyard is not that way, at all, it's expansive. But as I've been writing shorter games, I've been chucking stuff out the window, and maybe I should keep some instead.

That's what I'm thinking about. No conclusions yet.

Dain: thank you!

-Vincent
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