Constricted Posting

 Posted by at 16:16  No Responses »
Jun 242010
 

Hey, a new look for the blog! This change in decor precipitated by upgrading to the latest version of WordPress.

Our wedding invitation

Invitations have been cast to the four winds at this point. Cody and I plunked down and cooked up a design we were both happy with, had ’em printed, and mailed ’em off as we accrued the needed addresses over a period of a few days. We re-tooled the website slightly so that all of our invitees could RSVP online, via a fun little form that also invites them to supply song requests. Additionally, Cody and I can now see at-a-glance who has RSVP’ed in the affirmative, in the negative, and who hasn’t RSVP’ed, as well as our total guest count, and other fun data like that.

To  me, every one of these vests is the same.

You all are wearing the exact same thing, in different colors!

The new daunting task is finding something to wear. You’d think finding a slightly atypical waistcoat wouldn’t be that hard, but apparently everyone and their mother only makes the one sort of waistcoat. Yes, I realize that “buttons down the center” isn’t technically a single type of waistcoat, but it may as well be. I want something that doesn’t look like every other thing out there, which is much the same way I felt about finding a suit when I was still looking for one.

I recently bought a three-piece suit for a friend’s wedding. One piece among the triad is a waistcoat. It’s an interesting design — it buttons diagonally rather than straight down. I returned yesterday to the place from which I had purchased said waistcoat, only to have them show me three essentially identical waistcoats and then inform me that they couldn’t help me. Bull. At this point, I’m tempted to try and find something unique at a costume shop and then have it replicated by someone. Costumers, I suspect, will make more interesting clothing than tailors.


Blogging is a weird thing. I want to get to a point where I’m posting something of vague value every day. However, doing so is complicated by several unrelated factors. The bulk of my time is devoted to work, which I can’t talk about. I also spend a good chunk of time playing WoW. Self-indulgent flights of fancy aside, most people won’t care about my latest WoW exploits. I also want to talk about my story ideas and other things of that nature, but keeping those sort of under wraps is the prudent choice, so that nixes that subject. That leaves wedding stuff and other life events to talk about, which are more sporadic topics with bursts of information. I could wax poetic about mowing the lawn or taking out the garbage, but…do you really want to hear about that?

I didn’t think so.

A Flawed Origin

 Posted by at 11:08  6 Responses »
Apr 252008
 

Let’s kick things off with a bang and dive right into the flawed origin of RPGs. The inspiration for this piece comes from Mu’s Unbelievably Long and Disjointed Ramblings About RPG Design and the concept he calls “The Grandfather Clause of Stupidity.”

One of the flaws underpinning many RPG systems is the underlying assumptions that motivate them. To be precise, RPGs as we know them today came from the original Dungeons & Dragons, which itself came from Chainmail. Chainmail was not an RPG; it was a miniatures wargame. As such, many of the operative underpinnings that form the basis for D&D, which in turn formed the body of expectations for its offspring, come not from an ideal solution for role-playing, but for war-gaming.

The quickest way to demonstrate this is to open the index of the D&D Player’s Handbook. Do you see an entire chapter devoted to combat? I do. By making combat the focus of an RPG system, the designers of D&D — and this applies to any edition — have put forward a system the intent of which is to place a fantasy world dressing around a miniatures combat game. If that’s the goal, that’s great. However, if we step back and look at the broad genre that is role-playing games, we see a great deal of dressed-up, miniatures combat games.

I’m not knocking miniatures combat games, nor am I knocking the idea of combat in an RPG. I get into a good combat encounter as much as the next person. I think it’s worth raising the awareness of this “genetic trait” of RPGs, though. A quote I’ve seen attributed to John Wick (7th Sea, Legend of the Five Rings, Orkworld) says, “All RPGs have a grand total of two mechanics: swinging a sword and picking a lock.” While I doubt the veracity of this attribution (since I’ve seen it in only one location), I think it’s a succinct way of encapsulating the flawed box in which RPG design thinking often takes place.

I define RPGs by a break-down of terms: a game in which one role-plays. One can read many possible interpretations into that. For my money, it’s a game in which the participants derive enjoyment from the portrayal of a role — a character. Absent from that definition is any mention of rolling dice, swinging swords, killing monsters, and many of the other conventions that are common in RPGs. I’m not suggesting that I don’t enjoy such things, but they are not what the reason for which I’ve come to your table.

So far, the only system I’ve encountered played that gets away from the idea of RPG-as-wargame is White Wolf’s Storytelling system. While it does have mechanics for handling combat — for which I do think RPG systems need to account in some fashion — there’s little room to argue where the focus lies: story, mood, and character. Storytelling is by no means a flawless system. An unprepared GM could find himself dealing with a party of munchkin characters if he’s not careful. Such characters, though, defeat the purpose of Storytelling and so one might wonder if such a group would be better off playing D&D.

EDIT: While I never stated it in the above, one of the unspoken assumptions in the preceding paragraph is that the core World of Darkness book did not have its own combat chapter. Imagine my chagrin when I realized it did, in fact, have one. Plain-as-day. So, I apologize for any presumption that I may have appeared to make in that regard. (Yes, I can be wrong. When I am, I will admit as much. This minor revelation does not alter in any significant way the above post, though.)