2004-12-21 : Archive 137
I started posting at the Forge in August 2001. I was the 116th person to sign up. Now there are 3,854. I've written about 1200 posts there, almost one per day. Mine are less than 1% of the total. 300 pages of threads in the general forums, 30 threads per page, 2 to 100+ posts per thread. The Forge is on-topic enough that you can safely ignore only, oh, half of the threads, maybe two thirds. Let's round down and say that to own the Forge you have to read 20,000 posts. Let's be generous and say that reading the essays will substitute for 10,000 of them, so if you prefer: all the essays and 10,000 posts.
Now let's say that I want to discuss RPG design with a friend. My friend isn't a Forgie, but I say: "let's talk Technique. Nailing IIEE is fundamental to your group's apportionment of Credibility, which is the baseline of play. FitM is better than FatE in every circumstance I've examined (plus gives you many opportunities for in-the-moment Reward, there's really no downside). And if you go with Task Resolution instead of Conflict Resolution, lordy lordy! You're foisting Social Contract negotiation off onto the instincts of your eventual players, which is a massive setup for dysfunction. God forbid you have Task Resolution plus a GM; you might as well write 'my game sucks' on every page."
My friend says: "sure thing, Vincent. Lat0rz."
It's a stumper. How do I tell people that Task Resolution's dominance in design has been perpetrated by crap GMs to keep the people down, but Conflict Resolution will free your soul, when I have to start with "okay, so, first, the rules of an RPG are social rules that apply only to the actual human players, not to the made-up characters and things in the game..."?
There're two pieces. Piece one: a good and accurate description of roleplaying. Here is what happens when you roleplay. (Problem being: the accurate description flies in the face of cherished wisdom.) Piece two: given that, prescriptions. Here is how to structure a game to get what you want. (Problem being: to talk about improving a game, you have to admit that it's not satisfying as it is, which boy-o-boy do gamers hate to do.)
At the Forge, those two pieces have grown up together, with the first piece leading the second by only a couple months' work and the problems sorting themselves out as we go. Each new development in description has led to applications, organically. I own the Forge because it happened to me with my hands in it; I'm not confronted with 20,000 posts I haven't ever read before. But now we're at a place where the describing is ... mostly done! Believe it or not. Had you heard, roleplaying is understood? If you ask me, I can tell you what roleplaying is and how it works. It's an answered question! But that means that if you come to the Forge today, you don't get to participate so much in the description part. You have to learn description, not create it.
I could talk about how uncomfortable that must be for new Forge people, on account of how hard they've worked on their own and how earth-shaking their insights have been to them - but then we dismiss them either as incorrect or as old news. But that's another topic, the society of the Forge.
The work of prescription - that is, game design - can be ongoing and open-ended in a way that the work of description can't and shouldn't. In a lot of ways, informed game design is just now beginning. That's another topic too, the brilliant blinding future. I can hardly wait.
But meanwhile ... me and my friend. I want to talk prescription. I want to explain why Dogs in the Vineyard is as it is. I want to pick apart my friend's functional group dynamic and mine it for game design - after all, the point of game design is to make a functional group dynamic portable to other groups. But I'm stumped: how do I distill 20,000 posts' worth of describing, arguing, convincing, solving, reassuring into something manageable? How do I show my friend where I'm coming from and what I'm after, in a way that fits into my friend's busy schedule?
P.S. Emily's writing an essay about co-GMing. It's hard, she's struggling with it, I don't envy her one single bit. It's going to be a great essay but dag a lot of work. How happy I am that I'm not writing an essay about roleplaying too. So happy! Happy, happy, happy and doomed.
1. On 2004-12-21, Meguey said:
2. On 2004-12-21, Ben Lehman said:
3. On 2004-12-21, Charles said:
4. On 2004-12-22, jonathan said:
5. On 2004-12-22, kreg said:
6. On 2004-12-22, Vincent said:
7. On 2004-12-22, Council Member Coyote said:
8. On 2004-12-22, Vincent said:
9. On 2004-12-22, Vincent said:
10. On 2004-12-22, jonathan said:
11. On 2004-12-22, Emily Care said:
12. On 2004-12-22, kreg said:
13. On 2004-12-23, Ben Lehman said:
14. On 2004-12-23, Tom said:
15. On 2004-12-23, Vincent said:
16. On 2004-12-23, Vincent said:
17. On 2004-12-23, Emily Care said:
18. On 2004-12-23, Chris Goodwin said:
19. On 2004-12-23, jonathan said:
20. On 2004-12-23, Mad Hatter said:
21. On 2004-12-23, Mad Hatter said:
22. On 2004-12-23, Emily Care said:
23. On 2004-12-23, eef said:
24. On 2004-12-24, Meguey said:
25. On 2004-12-24, Vincent said:
26. On 2004-12-24, eef said:
27. On 2004-12-25, inky said:
28. On 2004-12-27, Vincent said:
29. On 2004-12-27, jonathan said:
30. On 2004-12-27, Vincent said:
31. On 2004-12-27, jonathan said:
32. On 2005-01-05, Chris(bankuei) said:
33. On 2005-01-05, Vincent said:
34. On 2005-01-10, Charles said:
35. On 2005-01-10, Charles said:
36. On 2005-01-10, Vincent said:
37. On 2005-01-10, Charles said:
38. On 2005-01-11, Vincent said:
39. On 2005-01-11, Charles said:
40. On 2005-01-11, Vincent said: