thread: 2011-09-08 : Trad vs Indie: FIGHT! pt2

On 2011-09-29, Vincent wrote:


In Lord of the Rings, as you're encountering it as a reader for the first time, there are some open questions. Here at the other side, having read it, all these questions are closed, but going into it, they're open:

Will Frodo succumb to the ring's power?
Will Boromir betray Frodo and take the ring?
Will Sam have the strength to carry the ring when Frodo can't?
Will Frodo have the strength to toss the ring in the fire?
Will Gollum get the ring and run off with it?
Will Strider lead the hobbits into a trap?
Will Gandalf survive his battle with the Balrog?
Will the ringwraiths capture the hobbits and bring them to Sauron?
Will the willow tree swallow Merry and Pippin to death?
And so on and on and on.

When you want to play a game a bit like Lord of the Rings, I propose that there are, very broadly and admitting much haze and overlap, two ways to do it. One way is to treat the questions as generally open; the other is to treat them as generally closed.

A different answer to any of these questions would change the books, some fundamentally, but very few of these questions are genuine dealbreakers. Maybe none! If the willow tree had swallowed Merry and Pippin to death, that would have established a different sense of peril and seriousness, and changed the character of the fellowship later, but it wouldn't have made it impossible for there to be the Lord of the Rings. Frodo, in fact, didn't have the strength to chuck the ring into the fire! If he had, it would have been a different trilogy, but it wouldn't have undone the whole trilogy. If Boromir had seized the ring, what would they have done then? Something! The story could have gone that way and still been every bit as good.

In fact, one of the appealing features of roleplaying is that you get to take these same questions and answer them different ways than the original author did. "What if Boromir HAD gotten the ring" is fantastic let's-play-an-alternate-LotR fodder.

So, as I see it, there are two things that have to happen when you sit down with your friends to play a game a bit like Lord of the Rings: you have to raise questions like these and then you have to answer them.

Do you see how I'm looking at it? Is this way of looking at it, as raising and answering questions, making sense to you, even if it's not the way you look at it yourself?


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