thread: 2009-12-18 : Seed content

On 2010-01-23, Marshall Burns wrote:

(Hey Vincent, I'll take this elsewhere if you want.)

I weep about it because I really want it to be WSB: the game. Because I would love that game. But OTE is, as written, an adventure game with Burroughsian Color, which just isn't the same.

The central thing in WSB is conflict with forces of Control. Control demands that you subjugate and degrade yourself to get by. Burroughs' later books are about fighting Control tooth and nail rather than just trying to get around it or survive it (like Naked Lunch is), but it's still the central thing. OTE almost has support for this with its power groups, but they're really kindof pathetic—if any of them are competent, why are there so damn many of them that can't do anything about each other? Nah, they're really just minor players scrabbling for tiny advantages. Which is part of a Burroughsian universe, but not enough. It's missing the capital-C Control. The time, inertia, entropy, shit-death-and-taxes Control on a cosmic level.

The other thing is a different kind of logic. WSB didn't believe in linear causality—he called Cause and Effect a "monumental lie." He believed in synchronous causality, which is hard to briefly explain, but boils down to events occuring because of abstract, unknowable causes outside of time and space. What we perceive as the effect and the cause happen synchronously, are determined and created in the same breath, no matter how far separated in time or space (even going backward through time). This belief is reflected in WSB's work, and roleplaying WSB requires a system that can deal with this idea. A system based on logistics is no good, and I for that matter one that requires keeping so many secrets from the players won't work, especially where it recommends things like concealing from a player the fact that his PC was affected by a fringe power. You end up with players being cautious and careful and calculating, things that just don't count for much in WSB. Not nearly as much as nerve, open-mindedness, and sheer audacity.

And, for a minor concrete example (there are plenty), the whole issue of guns in OTE. Guns are usually illegal in WSB books too, but everyone has one anyway. William Lee is constantly getting hassled (usually by those two recurring cops—Hauser and O'Brien, I think?) about his .38 snub-nosed revolver. In OTE, players are pretty much instructed that they shouldn't have guns or else the GM will spank them. In fact, that sort of audacity is dis-encouraged by OTE's whole structure, because it will get you killed. In WSB books, audacity keeps you alive and relatively free, albeit at increasingly horrible cost.

Ben, I've been suspecting for a long time that Spione has the pieces I might need to run a WSB game. Thanks for confirming that I need to buy it, darn you.


This makes...
short response
optional explanation (be brief!):

if you're human, not a spambot, type "human":