Archive for February, 2006
the dark narrativist game of gamist simulationism in ancient retro-future Babylon
Need I say more?
In this thread on The Forge, Ron Edwards attempts to further expand on some of his more recent remarks about RPGs that cause “brain damage.”
In terms of role-playing technique, at the group level, the inability is expressed in two brands – the ones who persist in rolling dice periodically, often not especially correlated with any importance to what’s going on, and the ones who make a big point out of abandoning the dice, claiming a thespian ideal of “getting into it.” As story-facilitating techniques, neither work. This is the roll/role dichotomy, which I see as the distinction between syphilis and gonorrhea, or perhaps, having had one’s legs blown off by a land mine, pulling oneself along on the ground by one’s left arm or one’s right arm. Which is to say, not much distinction at all. Both are the rather appalling result of trying to carry out a social, creative activity in the absence of the above three principles.
When I first starting reading The Forge a couple of years ago, I thought Ron was pretty cool. He had some really insightful ideas that talked about aspects of RPGs that I’d never really thought about before, and I personally have a liking for people that are ornery. Lately though, I don’t know, I think I’ve just gotten tired of his schtick. He still has plenty of good ideas to share, but the way he presents them has started to grate on me, and it’s gotten so I’m happier hearing his ideas translated by someone who is trying not to sound like a jerk.
I’ve read all the comments about how that’s just the way Ron is, and how he’s a really cool guy to sit down and discuss things with in person. I’ve seen the comments by Ron himself about how he doesn’t really care how he comes off, and how he’s not trying to be liked, and how he doesn’t see himself as some sort of representative for a gaming movement. That’s all fine. I’ve just decided that I, personally, have reached a point where I tend to find his posts and comments annoying more often than not, even when I agree with his underlying ideas.
ETA: I pretty much agree with Clinton’s comments in this thread.
1. Not everyone likes the same thing
2. Play with people you like
3. Play with rules you like
4. Everyone is a player
5. Talking is good
6. Trust, not fear or power
7. It’s a game, not a marriage
8. Fun stuff at least every 10 minutes
9. Fix problems, don’t endure them
Seems simple enough, doesn’t it?
I just noticed that Bankeui has posted another excellent sounding prep tool for GMs.
Yesterday I told you how to make Scene Frame on the fly, with an easy tool. Here’s another prep tool to make scenarios full of conflict for your games. This is part brainstorming and part R-map.
It’s another one that strikes me as being especially useful for Amber GMs, which is kind of odd, since I don’t know if I’ll ever GM a classic-style Amber game. There are plenty of other games it should work for though, so it’s well worth a read.
Over on Deep in the Game, Bankuei has posted what looks like a really great method for running a game.
But that’s not the key difference in play. The difference is that the players have prepared a tool for improvisation -the character. With the character, the players don’t need to prep a list of possible events and responses, they simply use the character as a focus to improvise with. They can make up on the spot how a “hot-headed young knight out for glory” ought to act without thinking too hard.
What the GM needs is to prep tools that do the same thing. Instead of trying to guess what might happen, what the players might do, what they might find interesting, you can instead prep tools that react to what IS happening, what the players SHOW you they want to do.
The GM’s role really boils down to helping make interesting stuff happen. This breaks out into framing engaging scenes (and conflicts) and presenting neat NPCs. So let’s talk about how to make that happen…
It strikes me as a technique that’d work especially well for something like an Amber game (whatever rules system was being used), since I’ve seen the same general sort of advice discussed on various Amber forums for years. Chris really does an excellent job of explaining how the whole thing works, and I’m definitely wanting to try this out with the next game I run (whatever that might be).
Brand has some interesting comments about the evolution of RPGs, and how it is now starting to get into territory where it challenges more than just how people play games.
So as we go farther with this it is inevitable that we will come to cross purposes. Where we will build fully-functional, solidly designed, socially negotiated systems that do exactly what they want to do in exactly the way we want them to do it that will at the same time be absolutely unacceptable and unplayable to a vast number of people.
And I don’t mean “unplayable because they won’t give it a chance.” And I don’t mean “unplayable because it goes against what they think about game.” And I don’t mean “unplayable because of what their past games have made them.”
I mean “unplayable because of who life has made them.” And I mean “unplayable because it goes against what they think about life.” And I mean “unplayable because when they give it a chance it causes them active revulsion.”
Read the whole post, as Brand has lots of interesting things to say. I think I can already see hints in some current game theory discussions that certain designers are heading somewhere I have no desire to go, no matter how good their game design ends up being, because their belief systems and goals are just too different from mine. Of course, there’s also every chance that some other designer will make choices that speak directly to what I believe, so I’m not feeling all that worried about it.
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