Started by Moreno R., May 31, 2012, 01:25:52 AM
QuoteSo here are two points for you: 1. Sometimes it's fun and good for your PC to be a supporting character, not a protagonist. Thus, yes, prey to all the crap that befalls supporting characters, including random death. 2. Sometimes, then, it's also fun and good to not know whether your PC is a supporting character until some moment of truth. In fact further: to not get to choose yourself whether your PC is a protagonist or a supporting character, to let the events of the game's fiction choose. Your PC's random death may well be just such a moment. There's no reason in the world why any gamer would recognize the truth of these two points out of hand. They're hard won. Having a gamer-like relationship with your PC makes them seem impossible, doesn't it?
QuoteDoes this mean your character can't sin?No. But it does mean that no one's in a position to judge your character's actions but you yourself. Your character might be a remorseless monster or a destroying angel - I the author of the game can't tell the difference, your GM and your fellow players can't tell the difference, only you can.... Sin, arrogance, hate bloodlust; remorse, guilt, contrition; inspiration, redemption, grace: they're in how you have your character act, not (just or necessarily) in what's on your character's sheet. Those moments, in play, are what matters.Your character's conscience is in your hands.
Quote from: Ron EdwardsWhat concerns me about the dice is that complex group resolution in Sorcerer is easier, faster, and more reliably decisive than any RPG known, relative to the detail. (Yes, Dogs fans, it's true.) Yet for some reason people keep insisting on playing it as if it were Vampire or Over the Edge, adding complications like initiative in the former case and reducing it to freeform with arbitrary "roll now" bits in the latter.
Quote from: Ron EdwardsNow - your set of examples is more or less a diagnostic board of what I've been calling, with various reactions 'round the internet, brain damage. There are so many bent/broken features of creativity and interaction embedded in those examples that it'd take a textbook to lay them all out in a way which shows what's really wrong.Yes - "wrong." Since brain damage (which I think is literally the case) seems to get right up people's asses as a term, I'll analogize to limb-based physical limitations."Wrong" ... what do I mean? Wrong in the sense that a person missing limbs, using old-school prosthetics, must whip their head about and lurch down the street, rather than using a modern prosthetic which (a) doesn't resemble a limb in the slightest but (b) permits them to walk without damaging the rest of their body or forcing constant disorientation. Note, I'm not privileging viewer comfort as the point, but rather the person's health and function as the point.If you say "creative social interaction" instead of "walking," in that paragraph, then that's what early-to-mid 1990s role-playing procedures concerning so-called "storytelling" were like - Vampire leading the pack, as well as a number of other offspring of a particular application of Champions. You've seen these role-playing experiences too, Jesse. You know all about the social and creative equivalents.Heh - I could carry on with that limb-analogy with some accuracy, I think ... the contemporary tendency toward overt and covert freeform as a solution would be like tossing away the crappy prosthetic, but then flapping one's arms very hard and saying, "I'm flying, I'm flying!"Julie (jrs) told me about a guy she saw walking along with a lower-leg prosthetic that didn't look like a leg at all - a flat, s-curved sheet of metal, if I understood her correctly. The guy strode along with his head, shoulders, posture, all in sync, just like a person with legs.I consider Sorcerer to be like that kind of prosthetic ... but to use it, you have to abandon the idea that a prosthetic is supposed to resemble the missing limb parts. You have to throw away a whole bunch of stuff that you've learned by pure indoctrination, not analysis, "is" the way limbs work. Going to the topic rather than the analogy, we're talking about recognizing that role-playing is a Big Model phenomenon, not some "talk and roll and see what happens" fetish ritual. Hero Wars is just like Sorcerer in this regard. The Pool would be another interesting example, "shaped differently" from the other two, if you will.Here's another application of the analogy ... years ago, I saw a phenomenal hard-style martial arts demonstration by a guy with one leg and one arm, using a crutch. Since the developed martial arts are based on a series of physical principles, a knowledgeable viewer watching this guy could (and did) say, "That's it!" Meaning, the movements were obviously different, but the principles he was using were exactly the same as the baseline art.In other words, it wasn't, "crippled guy tries so hard, awww, isn't that sweet, give him a black belt." It was, holy shit, not only is this guy really good, but his mentor and the art itself are clearly validated by this application, in terms of the principles being employed and someone's understanding of them, rather than just memorizing coded moves for fully-limbed people. This was martial arts.That's Dust Devils, Universalis, My Life with Master, and InSpectres. All of which I consider to be the collective gateway beyond which the past two years of creative explosion have occurred. Without that door, no Trollbabe, no Lacuna, no Polaris, no Primetime Adventures, no Breaking the Ice, and no Shadow of Yesterday. (I'm failing to include about twenty other titles; you all know who you are, so consider yourselves mentioned. Not all of you are active at the Forge.) Note that I consider all of this explosion to be equivalent to the martial arts stuff performed by the man with only two limbs.[As some of you know, I am now embarked on an ambitious project based on the idea that we "have limbs" after all, and wondering what the principles underlying the bevy of fantastic new RPGs (and RPG-ish things) would be like, expressed by and for people without the damage. I consider this utter terra incognita, culturally, creatively, and commercially. It cannot and will not have any kind of relevance for gamer culture or commerce. As a survivor of the damage, I may fail miserably. But this topic is not relevant to the present point.]If people are interested, I will explain my references to brain damage, for which missing limbs were a stand-in in this post. You may not like what I have to say.
QuoteTHE BIG PICTURETo engage in a social, creative activity, three things are absolutely required. Think of music, theater, quilting, whatever you'd like. These principles also apply to competitive games and sports, but that is not to the present point.1. You have to trust that the procedures work - look, these instruments make different noises, so we can make music; look, this ball is bouncey, so we can toss and dribble it2. You have to want to do it, now, here, with these people - important! (a) as opposed to other activities, (b) as opposed to "with anybody who'll let me"3. You have to try it out, to reflect meaningfully on the results, and to try again - if it's worth doing, it's worth learning to do better; failure is not disaster, improvement is a virtueMy claim is that the hobby of "story-oriented" role-playing as expressed by its most aggressive marketer of the term, and as represented and imitated by countless others, fails on all three counts. (1) Since the procedures don't work, and everyone knows it, you get the Golden Rule. (2) Since there is no "it" to do, and since social function is ignored as the necessary context, the ideal becomes to play "at all," with no social or creative metric to judge it as successful. (3) Since play is not fun, the only way to enjoy or validate the activity is to edit one's memory of play to recall it as fun, which carries the additional negative safety feature of critical repair of the techniques.The fictional content itself is characterized by a hell of a lot of fictional "wandering," and not in the sense of setup or atmosphere, either. Fictional confrontations tend to be extremely inconclusive, what a movie-viewer would call a "meaningless car chase" or "chewing the scenery."
QuoteConsumerism and subcultural identificationOwning walls and walls of books from one or very few companies, in a classic expression of brand loyalty - the cultural code-word is "support," but it's really about staying committed to "fun eventually" at the expense of fun nowApplication of the periodical model (comics, magazines) to the role-playing product - one must buy regularly in order to be involvedFrantic attention to what's coming out next, feverish interest in what everyone else has heard or might be interested inConsistent impulsive and submissive purchasing habits at specific stores, as influenced by specific people thereCronyism and isolationConfounding inclusion in play, friendship, and social appreciation in the fashion I described in Social Context (see the Infamous Five)Social huddling as opposed to social endeavor or friendshipIntense, long-term tensions based on romantic partners who do not support one participant's inclusion in the group; usually accompanied by an increase of dishonesty among former friends"Story-oriented" without storyDeprotagonizing is the baseline, the pure default of play; when that's the case, "permission" for one's character to matter, however momentarily, becomes the key reward, often withheldNo situation or conflict yielding Premise, therefore no developing of Premise through fictional eventsNo consistent use of a given technique for a given situation - sometimes you roll, sometimes you don't; sometimes a shouted announcement "counts," sometimes it doesn'tDisappearance of the reward system, replaced by fiat and the fact of inclusion* Force is the basic technique, the only accepted manner of generating story-ish content, and it is usually expected to be invisible *[Side note: it is no surprise to me that of every term I've ever suggested, introduced, or adapted in my writings about role-playing, Force is the one most consistently elided or illustratively mis-applied by readers. You should go read the definition in the Glossary again. It doesn't say what you probably think it says. The damage to your own intellectual pathways is preventing you from reading it.]Co-dependency and reinforcement of emotional dynamics which aren't rewardingChildish behavior during play: pouting, crumpling up papers, tuning out, arguing to disruptOngoing power-struggle over outcomes of game techniques, a brinksmanship of flouting "rules"Socially poisonous dynamics surrounding play: ostracizing, overriding, currying favor, participating in a running dialogue of "who said what about whom"Specific and utterly tacit power-structure reinforced by the above: impossible expectations of fun - you have to guess what I want and provide it consistentlyDisconnection between what is done and what is producedHyper-tension about one's investment in a given character creation (not play, creation), resulting in posturing and defensiveness during play, which can only be a threat to the potential of that creationInability to reflect meaningfully on the experience, including resisting discussing actual play in any accurate or critical fashionInability to identify a reward system, "play is its own reward" - which means, inclusion is the best one can hope forInsistenced that play is awesome and that the other participants are the best possible, focusing on rare and fleeting instances of shared imagination as evidenceWe are all familiar with this state of mind - it is precisely the profile of those individuals committed to storytelling role-playing as presented by White Wolf games and many similar others that preceded them or came afterwards. Its origins in terms of game texts are probably traceable to AD&D2, for content, and to some applications of Champions, for rules.And by "state of mind," I mean something profound and developmentally reinforced, a value system, not just a momentary mood or habitual tendency. For people who are in the "zone" of the age and subcultural target market, they try to make it work (after all, it should work, they think) and in failing, adopt this new value system instead, and eventually they leave, their original interest in the activity (which they never experienced because it didn't happen) diminished. For the people who do more than dabble in this ... thing ...., they undergo forms of indoctrination which are rather horrible to watch, and their behaviors are most especially fascinating when the following opportunities are made available.1. Actual Play posting - they flatly cannot do it2. Encouragement to identify their personal creative goals - they react with rage at being labeled3. An assortment of low-buy-in games, rather than a single "chosen" high-buy-in one - they defend their own consumerism4. Rules which actually work - they hysterically insist such rules couldn't possibly work, and they cannot actually bring themselves to pay attention to the rules during play, and resist learning at all costs