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Author Topic: Angels in February games  (Read 3093 times)
stefoid
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« on: February 09, 2011, 06:38:19 PM »

I didnt get the Angels thing at all -- just didnt occur to me, I looked at wings and thought "wtf?  Obviously every 2nd entry is going to be about whisper and murder - secretive conspiracies, etc..."  and yet angles dominated.  I wonder why?

edited to change the title for the split - RE
« Last Edit: February 10, 2011, 10:51:46 AM by Ron Edwards » Logged

Baxil
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« Reply #1 on: February 09, 2011, 07:33:42 PM »

The games are diverse in all sorts of ways, yet there is some kind of shadowy, aerial, ethereal, gore-spattered unity to them which no single title fully encompasses ...

What I find most interesting is the unanimity with which people agreed that "wings" meant "angels", for good or for ill.  Even those who didn't leap to actual angels in their game design still riffed off of it.  Both of us who flew "wings" out to "blackbirds" (Michael's guardian-angelic Crows and my destructive-demonic Deathbird*) basically reduced it to animal angels.  And even Paolo's Wings of Blood, with its vengeance-driven reptiles, seems to me to have that quale.  The closest thing to dissent was the two entries with aerial soldiers/police, and even that isn't a huge stretch from divine authority and judgment.

Ron, I think you hit a deep vein of shared culture there, and "murder" was the icing on the cake.

Which leads me to an observation: Back in the November 2005 Ronnies, you used "dragon" as a term (with a similarly loaded supplemental violence term, "gun").  There was a similar lead for "dragon" use in those results (13/24) as for "wing" here (9/14), though not quite as lopsided.  And you remarked back in that thread on the thematic similarities of the games.  There's something to those big winged things that commands the tone.  (Hell, we've known that since Gygax/Arneson ...)

... And I want to argue that dragons and angels, and other similarly large shared myths, are somehow shorthand in our gamer brains for that thing that matters.  It seems obvious to me** in a deeply intuitive way, but looking back, it's a big jump, and I don't know how to bridge the two in words.

--
* Technically, I took "wings" mechanically out to "flying dice", but my approach into that (which left its thematic footprints all over the game) was the Deathbird itself.
** A self-identified dragon, but that's only relevant in that I've spent a lot of time thinking about just what the hell "dragon" means.
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Nathan P.
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« Reply #2 on: February 09, 2011, 07:41:33 PM »

Both of my ideas for a Wings + X entry were totally about angels, as well. Wierd, huh.
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Nathan P.
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stefoid
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« Reply #3 on: February 09, 2011, 07:52:07 PM »

Now that you mention it, dragons could have been used for wings+murder as well, but they didnt get a look in.

May I ask how many of the Angel game authors are Christian or come from a Christian upbringing?



The games are diverse in all sorts of ways, yet there is some kind of shadowy, aerial, ethereal, gore-spattered unity to them which no single title fully encompasses ...

What I find most interesting is the unanimity with which people agreed that "wings" meant "angels", for good or for ill.  Even those who didn't leap to actual angels in their game design still riffed off of it.  Both of us who flew "wings" out to "blackbirds" (Michael's guardian-angelic Crows and my destructive-demonic Deathbird*) basically reduced it to animal angels.  And even Paolo's Wings of Blood, with its vengeance-driven reptiles, seems to me to have that quale.  The closest thing to dissent was the two entries with aerial soldiers/police, and even that isn't a huge stretch from divine authority and judgment.

Ron, I think you hit a deep vein of shared culture there, and "murder" was the icing on the cake.

Which leads me to an observation: Back in the November 2005 Ronnies, you used "dragon" as a term (with a similarly loaded supplemental violence term, "gun").  There was a similar lead for "dragon" use in those results (13/24) as for "wing" here (9/14), though not quite as lopsided.  And you remarked back in that thread on the thematic similarities of the games.  There's something to those big winged things that commands the tone.  (Hell, we've known that since Gygax/Arneson ...)

... And I want to argue that dragons and angels, and other similarly large shared myths, are somehow shorthand in our gamer brains for that thing that matters.  It seems obvious to me** in a deeply intuitive way, but looking back, it's a big jump, and I don't know how to bridge the two in words.

--
* Technically, I took "wings" mechanically out to "flying dice", but my approach into that (which left its thematic footprints all over the game) was the Deathbird itself.
** A self-identified dragon, but that's only relevant in that I've spent a lot of time thinking about just what the hell "dragon" means.
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Kensan_Oni
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« Reply #4 on: February 09, 2011, 08:22:29 PM »

I admit, that after I had finished and submitted, and was reflecting on the entries, I was going "I should have chosen Fairies." At one point in the design space, I was really tempted to switch the Owl motif with a Moth motif, but I figured that would have looked weird against the Raven faction. The next day, as I was about ready to sleep, I was going "Butterflies!".

I might change Wing Types from birds to insects when I go and do a re-write.
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Kensan_Oni
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« Reply #5 on: February 09, 2011, 08:29:15 PM »

May I ask how many of the Angel game authors are Christian or come from a Christian upbringing?

Well, I'm not, and my only real exposure to a specific church (A Baptist) happened when my uncle went all born again. However, I lived in a lot of Latin neighborhoods of California, and the predominant religious choice is Catholic, so I had access to lots of the symbolism all over the place. Angels and Saints are part of the cultural space that I am surrounded by, even if my own personal spirituality is in a different space.
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Eigil Rischel
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« Reply #6 on: February 10, 2011, 04:39:17 AM »

May I ask how many of the Angel game authors are Christian or come from a Christian upbringing?

Atheist, actually. My family too.
Though i guess i know a lot of Christian people, and i live in a Christian country, so i guess i get exposed to the symbolism.
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Ron Edwards
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« Reply #7 on: February 10, 2011, 05:16:45 AM »

A few notions of mine ...

1. Regarding our most common visual and cultural notions of angels, they aren't specific to Christianity. They're Abrahamic, found as a vaguely defined but consistent supporting cast throughout Judaism, Christianity, Islam, and the whole soup of interacting practices and doctrines which were not included in any of the three but link them (some of which are called "Gnostic"). I am also coming to think that they occupy a particular theological niche which seems to survive all schisms and all institutional shifting-about within the Abrahamic tradition, up to and including rebellion and personal rejection. In other words, angels are a big deal to the culture all around me and most of us posting here, on their own, for reasons which may not be the same as those underlying religious belief or practice.

Many, many gamers self-identify as atheists. They buy, play, and design games filled with angels.

2. I wrote a first draft of a game based on "morning wings" in December and January, and it's angels all the way.

3. In the November 2005 Ronnies, "dragon" was explicitly one of the terms - no one had to arrive at it via association. Whereas here, angels emerged through association, not merely from one pair of terms, but from several. (Interestingly, Gregor had to do a little tap-dancing to avoid "whisper" for his Wings of Desire inspired design.)

Best, Ron
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Willow
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Posts: 224


« Reply #8 on: February 10, 2011, 07:13:00 AM »

Oh yeah, my first game idea was MORNINGLORDS (all caps, it's a thing), where Lucifer and the fallen are the protagonists.  But I decided it was too weighty, ran out of time mulling over the mechanics, and then Secret Lives of Serial Killers came to me over dinner, with just three hours until the deadline.
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Elizabeth
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« Reply #9 on: February 10, 2011, 07:16:31 AM »

FWIW, my Christian upbringing and experience as a former minister definitely colored my game, which is basically about how being a good person just isn't good enough.
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whduryea
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« Reply #10 on: February 10, 2011, 07:24:25 AM »

I didnt get the Angels thing at all -- just didnt occur to me, I looked at wings and thought "wtf?  Obviously every 2nd entry is going to be about whisper and murder - secretive conspiracies, etc..."  and yet angles dominated.  I wonder why?

This surprised me too. When I looked at the January round of entries, I thought, "OK, here comes a bunch of fantasy combat games, 50% of which will involve the undead and 50% of which will have military strategy mechanics." Instead, we got an incredibly diverse mix of games concepts and mechanics that explored a huge number of possible approaches to the terms.

When I saw this month's collection of terms the White Wolf associations didn't even occur to me, and I thought we would have a really strange, eclectic mix of games. Instead, not only are there so many angels and pseudo-angels, but about 1/3 of the games use d6 dice pools.

I'm also surprised that the are so dark. If you ignore "murder," the remaining three terms seem loaded with cozy, comforting associations. (At least if you think of "whispering" more as children gossiping or pillow talk than as the sharing of insidious secrets.) My idea was for a nostalgic game about long childhood car trips using "wings" and "morning." I had the game largely planned in my mind, but apathy and insecurity won the day and I never committed it to a word doc for submission.

May I ask how many of the Angel game authors are Christian or come from a Christian upbringing?

As someone who was raised by a devoutly Christian mother, I think only They Became Flesh approaches angels from a particularly Christian (or anti-Christian) perspective. I'm pretty excited about what Elizabeth Sampat did with that game--some of the mechanics she uses are striking to similar to ideas that I had for an Old Testament RPG--but I'll hold those thoughts for the game-specific comments thread.

P.S. I was writing this before Elizabeth posted her reply. Now that I see that she is a former minister, it all makes sense!
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terrible games about terrible people in terrible situations/
terrible games about terrible people in terrible situations
Devon Oratz
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Posts: 75


« Reply #11 on: February 10, 2011, 10:17:56 AM »

Now that you mention it, dragons could have been used for wings+murder as well, but they didnt get a look in.

May I ask how many of the Angel game authors are Christian or come from a Christian upbringing?



The games are diverse in all sorts of ways, yet there is some kind of shadowy, aerial, ethereal, gore-spattered unity to them which no single title fully encompasses ...

What I find most interesting is the unanimity with which people agreed that "wings" meant "angels", for good or for ill.  Even those who didn't leap to actual angels in their game design still riffed off of it.  Both of us who flew "wings" out to "blackbirds" (Michael's guardian-angelic Crows and my destructive-demonic Deathbird*) basically reduced it to animal angels.  And even Paolo's Wings of Blood, with its vengeance-driven reptiles, seems to me to have that quale.  The closest thing to dissent was the two entries with aerial soldiers/police, and even that isn't a huge stretch from divine authority and judgment.

Ron, I think you hit a deep vein of shared culture there, and "murder" was the icing on the cake.

Which leads me to an observation: Back in the November 2005 Ronnies, you used "dragon" as a term (with a similarly loaded supplemental violence term, "gun").  There was a similar lead for "dragon" use in those results (13/24) as for "wing" here (9/14), though not quite as lopsided.  And you remarked back in that thread on the thematic similarities of the games.  There's something to those big winged things that commands the tone.  (Hell, we've known that since Gygax/Arneson ...)

... And I want to argue that dragons and angels, and other similarly large shared myths, are somehow shorthand in our gamer brains for that thing that matters.  It seems obvious to me** in a deeply intuitive way, but looking back, it's a big jump, and I don't know how to bridge the two in words.

--
* Technically, I took "wings" mechanically out to "flying dice", but my approach into that (which left its thematic footprints all over the game) was the Deathbird itself.
** A self-identified dragon, but that's only relevant in that I've spent a lot of time thinking about just what the hell "dragon" means.

If you're counting Anathema (Shrouds aren't *really* angels, it's just the simplest way to explain them in one sentence) then nope, sure am not. Unlike Kensan I don't have a lot of contact with organized religion or Christian culture/symbolism, either, except inasmuch as anyone living in America does.

Quote
Oh yeah, my first game idea was MORNINGLORDS (all caps, it's a thing), where Lucifer and the fallen are the protagonists.  But I decided it was too weighty, ran out of time mulling over the mechanics,

I would TOTALLY play this game (did someone say metal), and I considered something similar myself.

Quote
I'm also surprised that the are so dark. If you ignore "murder," the remaining three terms seem loaded with cozy, comforting associations.

To me, the four words, taken together, are incredibly ominous, lightened only by the inclusion of morning and even then only somewhat. That's my free association spin on it.
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Elizabeth
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« Reply #12 on: February 10, 2011, 10:39:00 AM »


Quote
Oh yeah, my first game idea was MORNINGLORDS (all caps, it's a thing), where Lucifer and the fallen are the protagonists.  But I decided it was too weighty, ran out of time mulling over the mechanics,

I would TOTALLY play this game (did someone say metal), and I considered something similar myself.

That's exactly where I went with They Became Flesh. I'm really surprised all three of us went "Oh, Lucifer and the fallen!"

Quote
Quote
I'm also surprised that the are so dark. If you ignore "murder," the remaining three terms seem loaded with cozy, comforting associations.

To me, the four words, taken together, are incredibly ominous, lightened only by the inclusion of morning and even then only somewhat. That's my free association spin on it.

For Wings and Whisper, literally the only thing I could think of was a children's game about butterflies, a la Doctor Seuss and "Mr Brown Can Moo:" Mister Brown can whisper, very soft, very high— like the soft soft whisper of a butterfly. I, uh, may spend a little too much time reading to my kids. >.>
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Gryffudd
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Just another designer


« Reply #13 on: February 10, 2011, 10:43:28 AM »

Hm, I never had any angel connotations pop up for me until Ron mentioned it here, but my thoughts are so full of steampunk and pulp stuff someone could give me the word octagonal and my first thought would probably be something mad-sciency. :)

Pat
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Ben Lehman
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Blissed


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« Reply #14 on: February 10, 2011, 11:32:08 AM »

Interestingly, the game I failed to write, ANAKIM, was about half-angels having fantasy adventures in antedeluvian times.

I'm agnostic and was raised pretty agnostic too.
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