[Spione] Pronounced "kah-guh-beh"

Started by Ron Edwards, August 27, 2009, 08:05:00 PM

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Ron Edwards


I'll answer you in reverse order. First, I'm not sure what you mean by non-principal players having a retcon war. I'm pretty sure that no such thing happens with Spione, but to be sure I'm addressing what you're asking about, can you describe what you have in mind, maybe with an example?

Second, the answer to your question about mechanisms for keeping "what's up" mentally available is definitely yes. The two main documents of play are the dossiers of the principals. At the outset, each is two-sided, with "Guy" stuff on one side, and "Spy" stuff on the other. As play goes on, a lot of details get written on them, including information about various people, notes about operations, circles and arrows, and more. There are no particular rules about what to write or not to write, only that writing gets done.

On a given person's turn, he or she takes one or both of the dossiers and flips it to whatever side is relevant for the material currently being used in what he or she is talking about. So the dossiers are continually being handled and their content, printed and written, is continually being verbalized and listened to. The dossiers do not belong to the principal players but to the whole table, in terms of physical handling, inspired usage, and talking.

There's more to this, including if and when the dossier is opened, revealing the Trespass, and becoming one-sided, but this lightly-formalized, ongoing handling of the two documents is part of the basic spoken medium of play, and it serves very well for the purposes you describe.

Best, Ron

P.S. The terminology of the game is strictly grammatical, and I should explain it because apparently some confusion shows up in posts.

The noun principal means a primary or focal thing or person. Its adjective is principal. These are the terms used in Spione.

The noun principle is a foundational concept or standard. It is not a game term in Spione.


A retcon war is like a wikipedia edit war, but with retcons, where you focus on subverting and replacing someone's contribution because you can't validate/veto it at the time it was given, but you now have total narrative control. Can be hilarious, can be really annoying. Usually the annoying version stops fast, or happens between very small children! They sometimes happen in comics, though I can't think of a good example, but generally the editors don't put writers with conflicting views on one after another.
I imagined that a spy setting gave more excuses for making facts illusory, and could imagine a dispute between non-principal players about the identity or intentions of a secondary character, and though staying within the spy theme, it could get a bit out of hand. I suppose that unlike children or comic book writers, you can have an adult conversation in the same room as other the person as he does it! That kind of discussion might stop the bomb before it's used.

Love the dossier idea, presumably it means that the other characters are always viewed in terms of the principals? Have you had the same characters appear very differently on the two dossiers?

I'm a verbal guy, that grammatical stuff is all affect/effect to me! I can work out which one you mean by context when we talk, so I don't see why we can't do it when writing. But as with affect/effect, if the inappropriate use is giving you issues, (with explaining the game) then I'll defer to your distinctions! :)

Ron Edwards

I apologize for replying so late. I haven't been able to do more on-line than a little bit of rules-talk for Sorcerer for over a week.

Your concern about retro-wars is solved by the rules at a very basic level. Play is defined in two distinct modes: Maneuvers or Flashpoint. During Maneuvers, which are the majority of play, no fact-content statements can be taken at face value. Membership in an agency, for instance, maybe claimed or even documented, but cannot be taken for sure unless play continues past a Flashpoint. In other words, Maneuvers are quite murky. The only things that really happen then are what characters do and say, and even those cannot include in-fiction conflicts of interest without going into Flashpoint anyway.

In other words, you can't have retro-wars about what is going on or what happened in Maneuvers because those facts aren't established for sure during Maneuvers at all. What you get instead, sometimes, is contradictory input about what might be going on, which is very common in this genre, and which also sets up for revelations and resolutions during Flashpoints. It works extremely well.

Best, Ron


Quote from: Ron Edwards on September 30, 2009, 02:28:28 PM
During Maneuvers, which are the majority of play, no fact-content statements can be taken at face value.

You beauty! (I actually exclaimed that for some reason, so I thought I'd record it too!)

Ha, that solves the problem by making it a feature. You just can't trust anything, so you don't feel precious if people don't accept it.

Sounds like 80% of this game is Rob Grassi's validation space. Elegant.

No wonder it's easy for new players to get, the problem of negotiating appropriateness between different imaginations is put front and centre and made a feature of. That's sparked a few proto-ideas in me.

Good job Ron. (and that's enough cheerleading from me!)

Ron Edwards

Thanks! I actually don't get that much cheerleading, so it's nice.

Plus, um, well, the book is actually available for purchase ...

Great questions and thanks again.

Best, Ron