Post Secret D&D

Saw this secret on the post Secret list today and thought it was funny….

… too bad whoever it is isn’t having his/her best games now… (or better sex!).

50 books

Café Game Exchange

So I was reading on Meg & Em’s blog about Epidiah’s terrific idea and have the perfect café in Toronto in mind to try it out with.

If I did the ground work here and the café in question agreed, would any of you who has a published game be interested in sending me a comp copy to put in the exchange?

Dance me to the end of game.

“Enjoying roleplaying is rather like enjoying dancing: At some point you have to throw your inhibitions to the wind, admit you might look like a fool to passing spectators and enjoy the moment. Also like dancing, which at first may seem like a fairly limited activity, roleplaying has almost infinite depth and variety in the experiences it provides.”

From this week’s the Escapist. Check out The Dice They Carried for a fun article.

Simon Says…

So Simon Carryer rocked my socks earlier this week with this Culture Builder that he posted elsewhere on the Interwebs. I thought more of the world should know about it.

Here’s the idea:

First, you need to come up with 13 “rules” for your culture. They should range from really broad, general, and non-intrusive, through to very specific, all-encompassing laws. You can crib them from existing cultures if you like. Depending on the game, maybe everyone can help come up with these. Number them 2-10, then Jack, Queen, King.

For example:

2: People wear blue for mourning.
3: Women always get first choice of food, and the eldest choose first.
8: There is a tribe called the “Gazzir” who provide guards to aristocratic families. The tribe is renowned for honour unto death, and fanatical loyalty to employers.
9: Swords are forbidden to be carried by anyone not of noble lineage. For this reason, pole arms are common.
Queen: Those who are sentenced to death, or contemplating suicide, can opt to join a sect of monks called “the Nameless”. They give up their old identities, and live ascetic lives of servitude.
King: The Emperor’s word is law, and none may question it and live.
(of course, you’d have 2-K all done)

Now, in game, when you need an off-the-cuff NPC, or if you’re preparing NPCs for a game, draw a card. Referencing the number on the card and check the suit. Take the rule you’ve drawn and interpret it according to the suit:

Hearts: The character embodies, enacts, or enforces the rule.
Diamonds: The character twists, alters, or avoids the rule.
Spades: The character’s life is altered (for good or bad) by the rule.
Clubs: The character breaks the rule.

So, drawing from the above list:

2 of Diamonds: Alaric the Mason wears blue every day, and has done for years. No one knows if he’s mourning a long-dead wife, or if he’s just weird. Though he seems perfectly normal in other respects, it makes people suspicious.

3 of Spades: Gwen is the mother of five hungry children, and poor. She lives with her mother-in-law, who always chooses the most food for herself, leaving very little for Gwen and the children. Gwen is forced to eat almost nothing, so her children can survive.

8 of Clubs: Numun the Betrayer was a Gazzir guard who betrayed his employer, a cruel and merciless man. Numun and a few of his friends slew the man. Now Numun’s tribe is hunting him down to restor their honour.

9 of Hearts: Darran of Everwood is a young nobleman, and an expert swordsman. He itches for a chance to test his skill against the best in the land.

Queen of Diamonds: Aliea is an advisor to the Emperor. Though she wears the garb of the Nameless, and claims none of her former identity, forgoing even her name, she is often present at high-level meetings, and has a strong voice in the Emperor’s war-council.

King of Spades: Beatrice, a serving-woman at the palace, is sentanced to death for refusing to go to the Emperor’s bed.

Aces: Aces are a special case. Come up with a previously unknown rule, and then refer to the suit to find the character’s relationship to the rule.

So the idea is that you get a whole lot of characters with kind of intertwined fates, different stakes in the culture.

Simon says… “I think it’s an interesting way of doing “show, don’t tell” in a fantasy game, where the culture, and how it works day-to-day, is revealed by the characters the players meet, rather than dictated from on-high. If nothing else, it’s a great prompt for imagination. These characters were all thought up on the fly as I was typing this, but I’d be happy to have any of them in my games. I like how they really act as plot-hooks, but they’re plots that are firmly rooted in the culture. So often I think fantasy cultures are treated as this monolithic thing, where all members of the culture adhere to a set of guidelines unerringly. What I like about this idea is that it introduces the complexity and moral ambiguity of real cultures, without endless complications to the game.”

Real Roleplay

As usual, Chris Chinn over at Deeper in the Game rocks my world with his post “A conveniently shifting line. Go read it. Grasping what he’s saying there is critical to reading me.

Design Blogroll – Games for the Mind

Ian Burton Oaks is quietly, yet prolifically posting over at Games for the Mind about some interesting stuff. The place I’m going to point you to is his discussion of GMing in which he also talks about hippy games and their possible tendency to be “socket locked” (that is, hard wired to a specific socket) which may inhibit or prohibit players of other sockets from engaging. Good stuff! I’ve added him to the blogroll, as you might have noticed. See also, his discussion on why he thinks Sorcerer isn’t socket locked. It makes me wish that I’d played Sorcerer at one point to be able to evaluate his analysis.

Go check it out.

Get thee to a Yud’sDicery!

Go read Brand’s GNS and Genre Theory right now. All my stuff will still be here when you get back.

Syncronicity Moment – Push/Pull Communication Modes

Okay, so there’s this very excellent post by Paul Tevis over on RPG Talk that talks about Push/Pull in regards to Setting. This is interesting all on it’s own, and I’ll be thinking about it more in future days when my brain has more room to think, but what made me pick up the link and put it here is his later comments about Push and Pull modes of communication:

“Writing for Presentation and Setting are essentially Push techniques. They’re both ways of saying, “Here’s my position. I’m done. Here you go.” Writing for Discussion and Situation are essentially Pull techniques. They’re both about giving the other person room to tell their side, to make what you’ve started into something different and bigger than what you would have done on your own.”

This is one of the things I was trying to get to in my blathery way back when, but put together much more coherently and eloquently, especially once married to Brand’s excellent discussion with him in the comments. It’s something I’m struggling with over on Storygames, as I try, for the first time in a while to not give up on a forum. I generally don’t do so well on forums, (especially RPG ones) because of the exact thing Paul is talking about.

There’s a discussion happening over there, and it’s about gender, and I’ve been cautious to get too far into it because it’s a tarbaby in that context, because, I think that it has everything to do with gender while simultaneously have nothing to do with gender (I also didn’t want to co-opt the very real concern of the person starting the thread with my own issues). I like that Paul has put it back into the Push Pull context, because while Push/Pull were labeled Male/Female (partially my own fault) that’s not the way that I meant them, and I think that though you can make analogies, that they are essentially divorced from a any concept of sex or gender.

Push and Pull communication modes are not gender connected in any essentialist way at all. I know tons of Pull boys and Push girls. Throw a boy in a bubble over here and a girl in a bubble over there and pull them out as adults and neither will push or pull effectively at all. Neither will socialize effectively at all. Gender only has to do with Push and Pull as much as there is a very big difference (historically more so but still very real) between the way that most boys and most girls are socialized, and the way that girls are socialized have more to do with Pull than they do with Push (though exclusively neither) and vice versa with boys and Push.

So: nothing to do with gender, yet everything to do with gender. Boys by nature are no more capable of pushing than girls, or girls more capable of pulling, but many socialization experiences for each actively encourage one and discourage the other.

So gender aside: it is true for me. I was actively sociallized to Pull and actively (strongly) socialized not to Push. So it’s fun and comfortable and energizing for me to engage in activities relying primarily on Pull but difficult and uncomfortable and draining to engage in activities that rely on Push. I find forums maddening because the mode of most discussions are “Here’s my position. I’m done. Here you go.” followed by a series of challenges and defenses: all Push.

Worse than that, many of them masquerade (or honestly start out) as Pulls: “Here’s where I am, where are you, what does that mean?” and this is inviting to me, but once I’m part of them, they quickly move to Push: declaration, challenge, defense. When it happens I can get frustrated, angry, or hurt because I’ve been promised something that feels collaborative and have been given something that feels competetive, and I am there to share and explore, not to debate.

Now that I have words for it, I can identify that that’s why I started Sin Aesthetics, because I wanted to take part in the body of work that’s being built, but it allows me (for the most part, though less successfully in the past than it will be in the future) to pull the topics I am interested in, as well as moderate to control the amount of push in the discussion.

Now, to touch the tarbaby (hopefully with some latex gloves) for one second: If I’m right, and boys are socialized to push more often than pull, and there are disproportionately greater numbers of boys in RPG than girls, that means that there is a disproportionate amount of push in forums and games than pull, and that because of that, Pull mode people (be they boys or girls) will always feel less welcomed, less comfortable and less accepted than Push mode people.

Thanks Paul. :)

P.S. If you don’t understand and need to see the difference, go to SG and read two threads: A Very Special Gender and Gaming Conversation and Playing Across Gender Lines. When you read them, pay less attention to what is being said than how it is being said, and how the what changes the engagement level of the people involved. See if you can identify who’s uses Push Mode and who Pull and how that affects the discussion.

It may not be true for all push threads and pull threads, but the results of each of those threads also goes a long way in explaining why pull is fufilling to me and why push is not.

Teaser Review: C&P

Mike Sands over at Gamester at Large posted a teaser review of Crime and Punishment. Check it out!

Pull Clarification and Promises! Promises!

Brand said something in the post over on anyway that I’m really rather thankful for:

For now, let me say that one of the things I think is going on is that everyone in the discussion is talking about pull/push on different levels. Mo was talking about it at the social level, as a rhetorical stance that people take towards the power dynamic of game. It then quickly moved into discussion of techniques and ephemera that enable such a stance, and from there into the underlying logic of game theory.

This is absolutely true. I see now where I might have contributed to the confusion between the elements up there. You see, I’m not used to talking to y’all. When something pours out of my head at Brand, where they always invariably go, he gets it, and I don’t have to make strict delineations. I see why the bigger forum needs them. I might not always use your lingo, cause quite frankly it’s hard to get a hold of. From what I’ve seen there’s a lot of internal debate about the naming of things too, you can just imagine what it’s like when you’re just looking in the window. I hope that doesn’t make you walk away – after all, just because somebody speaks a different language doesn’t mean they don’t have good ideas.

For the record, I am interested in a lot of things about pull:

  1. I am interested in it at the social level as a viable alternative to, or married partner of push.
  2. I am interested in (some, not all) pull techniques as viable immersionist methods — both mechanical and social level — that may create better harmony, by providing more active, less immersion-destructive forms of authoring characters to meet the needs of the story, game or social contract.
  3. I am interested in examining current games to identify mechanics that support pull or push play, and see how using those mechanics feel different from each other.
  4. I would like to see more mechanics that support pull play in games in general to create a better balance, support those who prefer it over, or like it along with their push play. I am interested in talking about ways to accomplish this.
  5. I’m curious about the concept of seeing if an all-pull game is possible, and finding out if I’d like it or not (I suspect it would probably be not, but not as much as I would an all-push) Note: I’m not at all claiming to have the foggiest idea what an all-pull game would look like or contain, so don’t rag me on it until I give some indication that I think I do.

In the previous post, I was introducing #1 in the hopes of moving toward #2 in my next post and hopefully #3-5, down the line if people were interested. – well, I think I got my answer there.

So, to that end, I’m going to start fresh tomorrow after work, and see if I can get down my next intended post that will discuss some Actual Play examples that I think are indicative of the potential of pull and talk about their effects on the games they were in.

In the meantime, go check out Brand’s post: Brand Pushes and Pulls and Blows Himself Down. That should keep the discussion rolling along.

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