[The Pool] Ghosts & guns & bodies

Started by Ron Edwards, September 07, 2010, 05:45:10 AM

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Ron Edwards

Hi Raven and Frank,

I think we should consider mild vs. extreme forms of the disconnect, or perhaps better, correctable vs. disastrous. And I think that correctable side of things spans the whole range of "leadership" in terms of whose vision would be most productively enforced. I'll try to explain that.

In this case, I wasn't let down or disappointed by what I saw in the Character Stories, so much as suddenly aware that I had to revise my private imagery and related content. This is, I think, consistent with the whole concept of The Pool, which is Character Story first, front and center. If I'm handed character stories X, Y, and Z, and if I see that the players are acting in good faith with what they initially received, then hey - that's your mandate as GM. Since I was going into this with a deep reading of The Pool and a lot of scribbled text in draft about it, I was psychologically prepared for this necessary shift even if I hadn't specifically expected it.

If we'd been playing a game with a different content and system emphasis ... let's say Hero Wars, set in Glorantha ... then certain things simply can't be let slide, especially if like me, you have some commitment to the setting on thematic and political grounds. A major piece of wanting to play at all is to see what we, a group, produces with this, and without "this" being understood and valued to a certain degree, then I just lost that piece of my motivation and creative energy. I'm actually running into this a bit now, with my Shadow of Yesterday hack, in which recent character creation underwent some missteps which will have to be revised - literally because if we don't, I have no interest in playing. But my point here is that I see this case as correctable no less than the above paragraph, and in my experience, equally painless even if it's a genuine, time-consuming, and noticeable social step.

It's worth considering which adjustment - game-organizer (usually GM) vs. body politic of other players - is appropriate for Sorcerer, and what kind of Sorcerer. I know that the game is subject to a certain level of this initial disconnectedness, but I also know that a light & accurate touch solves it easily, and in fact, often the game is even better for it than one in which everyone just jumps on board. That's something I'll pick up in the Adept forum one day.

Either of the above examples could become disastrous with one simple addition: one person's sense of disorientation or even, interestingly, betrayal when initially confronted with the inconsistency. I have felt shocked and even horrified when looking over superhero characters for Champions games, and I mean horrified at the person in front of me, whom I'd considered to be an aesthetically and creatively sound partner in this activity, and who now I could only imagine had just been possessed by a demon or replaced by an alien. "I said superheroes! I said like The Liberty Project meets the Silver Surfer! Why am I looking at your 8th level assassin in tights? Have you no notion of comics? Have you no soul? Have you, sir, I ask at long last, no decency? God, I hate you!"

Anyway. Over the years, I learned a lot about how to organize superhero-setting role-playing such that this didn't happen, a whole topic in itself. But I also wonder whether there is a level of disastrous initial disconnect which is itself dealbreaking, beyond poor personal management of pre-game talk. I suspect there is. It's hinted at in that wonderful link you provided, Raven, in that the GM had creative expectations and inspirations that transcended the rather bog-standard textual options, but the player didn't even rise to those textual options and fell back on a generic trope. (And I might add that I've been the player in situations in which the labeling is the reverse, i.e., the GM had the right-hand visual and I had the central one.) I'd like to investigate that further, but I don't think it works well in this thread, because this instance of play was way, way over in the functional end, and I'd venture to say that we all had good solid central-illo visuals, merely taking a moment for one participant, me, to get on board with it.

Raven, I speculate that your Middle-Ages Cthulhu game, and probably the D&D one too, carried content which to you was both pivotal and inspirational, and as such, needed to be shared for it to be valid, as you saw it. But then it went south for some reason, and I'd love to read your notions about whether there was a door for correction that was missed, or if the whole thing was doomed. Clearly you have an Actual Play thread waiting to happen.

Obviously, my never-completed Color-First Endeavor was driving at this issue. Perhaps one day I'll try that again and finish it this time.

Best, Ron