2005-12-01 : The World IS a Better Place

Here's something I wrote just earlier today.

You get to character-as-avatar [from "shared imagined space"] by taking too literally the "space" metaphor. There is (or there used to be) a certain kind of physics-emulationist technical agenda whose adherants are (or were) very prone to this.

I say "shared imagined space" and they say (or said) "right! Your character is your representative in that space, and your game rules are its physics!" As though there were a space somewhere wherein your character was really walking around and doing things, bound by gravity and +1 to hit.

Makes me CRAZY.

But like I say, maybe all those people are gone now and the world's a better place.

Here's a bit of a conversation I've been having yesterday and today.


I'm going to go Joshua [BishopRoby] one further and say that your character only ever exists in your head and the heads of your fellow players - in what your group says and does and thinks and feels. The stuff on your "character" sheet isn't about your character at all - it's stuff that you, the real live player, have at your disposal when it comes time to decide how the game's going to go.

...This, by the way, is a simple restatement of the so-called Lumpley Principle.

Victor Gijsbers:

I think this matter is far more subtle than you make it out to be. The lumpley principle ("System is defined as the means by which the group agrees to imagined events during play.") certainly doesn't imply an ontology of characters.

And I'm like, actually it does, and then I'm like, know what? There hasn't been a dustup about the Limply Pimply around here for ages. And then I'm like, oh MAN, how good does that feel? Good, is how good.

And then Ron writes [A THEORY STORY] The youngsters. Here's a short piece:

They'll wonder what all the camp beds and bunsen burners are for, and we won't even mention the emergency stores of ammunition we buried next to each former outpost. Some of those are just parks now, and the ammo will stay buried forever.

Some of those are JUST PARKS NOW, and the ammo will STAY BURIED FOREVER.

Imagine that.

edit: My inclusion of Ron's couple sentences won't make sense, I think, unless you understand the Looply Pooply as a publishing consideration. Which it is, pure and whole - see my answer about theory to Tim here.

1. On 2005-12-01, Brand Robins said:

Hell, I know my gaming table is a better place for it. Though there are times when looking back over the wasted, desolate years of dysfunction I do want to cry for all the time and energy I pissed down a hole.

Now if we can just kill the three tier system!

(I'm an empty headed newb who hasn't fought yet, can you tell?)


2. On 2005-12-01, ethan_greer said:

Smells like progress.


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This makes...
ethan go "In response to Vincent, not Brand"

3. On 2005-12-01, Roger said:

As though there were a space somewhere wherein your character was really walking around and doing things

There's the common usage of one word which really demonstrates this attitude:  Exploration.


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This makes...
MW go "Greyhawk is real!"*

*click in for more

4. On 2005-12-01, Vincent said:

You'll notice I don't use "exploration" except in technical circumstances either.


5. On 2005-12-01, misuba said:

Maybe the S in GNS really stands for Spaceism!

Cue the voice of Big Daddy Kane: "E-R-A-S-E the spaceism..."


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This makes...
WMW go "Can we NOT do that?"
misuba go "You prefer new-school rap, eh?"

6. On 2005-12-02, Ben Lehman said:

You have no idea how many times I've been like: "ooh!  I had this great new RPG theory idea!  Oooh!  I can't wait to tell the guys at the Forge.  It'll be awesome!"

Then, I work out all the details and, would you look at that, it comes down to a simple restatement of the Lumpley Principle.

Back to the drawing board.

This isn't a bad thing.  A lot of physics boils down to F=mA, too.



7. On 2005-12-03, Curly said:

In Ron Edwards' recent war story parables, he portrays you Forge guys as a buncha grizzled burn-outs. Like PTSD characters in a Bruce Springsteen song.  Triumphant burn-outs, but still.

Even victors can 'bring the war back home' in their skulls; and have trouble adjusting to peace & prosperity.

From my Johnny-come-lately perspective; you guys are -jumpy-.

And rightly so. The internet is a hell of a place to expose your generosity & passion to every contemptous nay-sayer/ fatuous poseur/ pedant / and well-intentioned bumbler who comes down the pike.

But, still: jumpy.  It makes me jumpy just to make contact with y'all. Gotta be careful that sudden movements or loose remarks don't set you off. I end up posting 3x as much as I intended, just to clarify that I'm not hostile.

Is there a designated spot on the Forge or elsewhere, for players & designers who feel FRIED to talk about it?  Is anyway. the VA hospital for the Forge, so to speak? It seems to be serving that function at this moment.

Better games and good actual play will prevent additional battle scars.  But is that enough, to undo hair-trigger jumpyness already acquired?

Maybe games explicitly designed to address & soothe the players' neuroses—could help.
That's what I was getting-at, here.
When I said 'this self-examination' in that post, I meant the Closeted thread in particular.

Otherwise, time heals all wounds, I guess.

Either that, or a well-adjusted next generation will swoop in and exploit your innovations, minus the Marvin The Paranoid Android baggage.  Probably leaving you feeling robbed.  I know you guys ARE the happy future people, compared the bad old days. But still, but still, but still.

I've been presumptuous as hell, to stride in here & armchair diagnose like this. I don't regret it yet, tho. So here goes... Submit, Monkey!


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This makes...
TC go "Not a hospital..."*

*click in for more

8. On 2005-12-13, Steve Marsh (Ethesis) said:

The stuff on your "character" sheet isn't about your character at all - it's stuff that you, the real live player, have at your disposal when it comes time to decide how the game's going to go.

That's a problem I have with many "modern" games (gee, they look so 1977ish to me, but that is a whole 'nother story).

In many "modern" games (meaning a game where the flow of the game is more determined by player force of character, charisma and imagination than rules boundaries) the metagame is the one you play in order to control the rules.  It is a lot like watching five year olds play Monopoly where those with the strongest force of personality get to change the rules from time to time.

Kind of like guys, in the old days (err, 74-75) who discovered the idea of writing stuff on their character sheets.  You know, "oh, that +25 vorpal holy avenger?  I got that in Jake's game last week.  Specially atuned so my chaotic neutral character can use it when backstabbing."

Good players are just more subtle, but it seems similar to me, has for thirty years.

Now, what has changed, is the introduction of d20.  Which I abandoned about ten-fifteen years before it saw print (and I'm sure that there was no continuity between my version which I passed along to guys at TSR and the one used—many ideas come up over and over again).

Instead of the model of D&D as a gateway, with migrations to other systems (for a long time, before the haze of smoke obscured them, Chaosium's place in the ecosystem was to use D&D as a gateway and to trail in the market, picking up players as they evolved.  It was a great niche.  Now, those same players move on to other d20 products).

The fascinating thing is that Diablo/Guild Wars/World of Warcraft have absorbed the D&D play experience into a social on-line version that is pretty solid.  And that allows for scenario design that executes easily.

Which is always the heel.

Not to mention, those characters exist somewhere besides your head, and force of personality only allows you to gain social advantages, not rules advantages.  (Hey, I got my first occulus in ladder play through social advantages, I'm not knocking it, just don't want it as the primary requisit for players).

My two bits.


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