thread: 2005-10-20 : The Fruitful Void

On 2005-10-22, Ron Edwards wrote:

Three things.

1. Luke, I think what Jon Hastings wrote is spot-on for Burning Wheel; if the characters' BITs do not inter-engage among the real people's own interests, then play falls down with a thud. You'll have all these colorful badasses kind of sitting around looking at each other, even if they're fightin' and killin' and healin'. Lots of action but no "there" there.

2. John, we agree on this point. However, I think you have historically been rather a pain in the ass about it, by not recognizing that a game may have "emotions" mechanics and *still* provide a fruitful void, perhaps one that you (John) may not be familiar with. Yes, this is a personal criticism, and I'd appreciate you actually reflecting on, rather than defending, your behavior.

3. The classic illusionist GM understands Vincent's whirlwind already. However, the center, in his or her case, is *already full.* It's full of what the GM has put there. The payoff, the eighth corner, of such play is to discover what a brilliant, fascinating, cool, and uber-fan the GM is. "Boy, Bob is so awesome. He should publish that as a novel, he's almost as good as Robert Jordan."

The "pre-play" version of illusionism play therefore depends on everyone being nudged into existing tracks 'round and 'round until they "see" the allegedly brilliant jewel crafted for them to find.

The more improvisational version, which uses intuitive continuity (i.e. player-interest cues), is no less illusionist, because the GM essentially decides what the allegedly brilliant jewel is about during play, but otherwise the process is very similar.

I abominate both of these. It doesn't help that practitioners of each consider one another as different as night and day. But compared with play (and design) that utilizes *real* whirlwinds, with empty centers until they start happening, both of them are the same damn dull mud.


This makes JK go "My friends and I used to call illus. Museum Gaming. As in Look but don't touch."

This makes NinJ go "Good term, John."

This makes JK go "Its Judd."

This makes VB go "Ron, you're going a bit far afield just to make a personal criticism."
I do my best to keep people's interpersonal histories out of play, here. Except their interpersonal histories with me, of course.

This makes RE go "your field, but my stuff"
'Cept it's my concept and my terms that are under discussion. John has to pay to play with my stuff.

This makes NinJ go "Oh, Hi, Judd-not-John Kim"

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